In the wake of Google’s announcement on Monday that they were redirecting the Chinese version of search to Hong Kong, there has been speculation about the impact of that action on other U.S. companies operating in China. Now GoDaddy.com, the world's largest domain name registration company, has announced that it will cease registering Web names to China in response to the Chinese government's new demands for personal information (including photos) about customers.
This is a big decision for the company and it trivializes it to assume that it was “caused” by Google’s announcement earlier in the week. A better reading is that the escalating efforts of the Chinese government to clamp down on the Internet is leading companies to think seriously about the limits of their participation. As I stated earlier this week, it is not a short-term win for the Chinese people to have these companies exit the market. But it will surely draw back the curtain and reveal to the Chinese people the extent of government control over the Internet and it will create pressure on other technology companies to be mindful of the human rights implications of their activities, not only in China but also around the world. Whether the Chinese government reconsiders its policies in the wake of these announcements remains to be seen.