China has blocked all access to domain registrar GoDaddy, according to a report by censorship blog Moonlight. The block started before the end of the Olympics, Moonlight says, and can be traced to a router within China’s China Telecom service provider.
So what’s the real story here? We checked with the folks at GoDaddy, who initially acknowledged having seen the reports but ultimately came back with a “no comment” on the matter. Moonlight speculates the move may have an Olympic connection, and its logic makes sense: The Chinese government had banned anyone but the nation’s Olympic gold medalists from registering domains based on the athletes’ names within the “.cn” suffix. It even “advised” anyone who already owned such a domain to turn it over to the medalist “as a gift.”
Moonlight says the government wants to go a step further and force people to turn over those domains if they don’t do so on their own. If the domain is registered with an outside company such as GoDaddy, however — as opposed to with China’s own CNNIC domain registry service — the government won’t be able to gain control and seize the name.
That theory, of course, is no more than speculation at this point — though, from the looks of it, an official explanation may not be in our sights any time soon.