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End in sight for Go Daddy’s 60-day transfer lock

Kevin Murphy, January 21, 2012, 10:27:49 (UTC), Domain Registrars

Go Daddy’s unpopular 60-day domain name lockdown period, which prevents customers moving to other registrars, could be reduced to as little as five days under new ICANN policy.
ICANN’s GNSO Council this week voted to amend the Inter-Registrar Transfer Policy, which is binding on all registrars, to clarify when and how a registrar is allowed to block a transfer.
Today, Go Daddy has a policy of preventing transfers for 60 days whenever the registrant’s name is changed in the Whois record.
It’s designed to help prevent domain name hijacking, but to many customers it’s frustrating and looks shady; as a result it’s one of the most frequently cited criticisms of the company.
Other registrars may have similar policies, but Go Daddy is the only one you ever really hear complaints about.
Some have even posited that the practice violates the IRTP, which explicitly prevents registrars spuriously locking domains when customers update their Whois.
But ICANN’s compliance department has disagreed with that interpretation, drawing a distinction between “Whois changes” (cannot block a transfer) and “registrant changes” (can block a transfer).
Essentially, if you change your name in a Whois record the domain can be locked by your registrar, but if you change other fields such as mailing address or phone number it cannot.
Go Daddy and other registrars would still be able prevent transfers under the revised policy, but they would have to remove the block within five days of a customer request.
This is how ICANN explains the changes:

Registrar may only impose a lock that would prohibit transfer of the domain name if it includes in its registration agreement the terms and conditions for imposing such lock and obtains express consent from the Registered Name Holder: and
Registrar must remove the “Registrar Lock” status within five (5) calendar days of the Registered Name Holder’s initial request, if the Registrar does not provide facilities for the Registered Name Holder to remove the “Registrar Lock” status

Registrars may have some freedom in how they implement the new policy. Unblocking could be as simple as checking a box in the user interface, or it could mean a phone call.
Go Daddy, which was an active participant in the IRTP review and says it supports the changes, supplied a statement from director of policy planning James Bladel:

In the coming months, Go Daddy is making a few changes to our policy for domains in which the registrant information has changed.
We believe this new procedure will continue to prevent hijacked domain names from being transferred away, while making the transfer experience more user-friendly for our customers.

The changes were approved unanimously by the GNSO Council at its meeting on Thursday.
Before they become binding on registrars, they will have to be approved by the ICANN board of directors too, and the soonest that could happen is at its February 16 meeting.
The changes are part of a package of IRTP revisions – more to come in the near future – that have been under discussion in the ICANN community since 2007. Seriously.

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Comments (2)

  1. Ron says:

    Hopefully, this would apply to new registrations as well (expired names)

  2. Don says:

    The practice of blocking the transfer of your domain name does seem suspect it’s like blocking your business. I will welcome the change, and hopefully other registrars follow suit.

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