Huge drop in .cn domain registrations

May 17th, 2010

As expected, new .cn domain name registrations have seen a severe drop in recent months. Based on Hosterstats data, the registered base of .cn domain names has dropped by 4 millions  in the first four months of this year, to just about 8.25 millions by April 2010. Both the german (.de) and british (.uk) domain registries have now passed the .cn in terms of number of active registrations.

Several factors explain this drop:

-The new requirement to “verify ownership” of .cn domains as imposed by the CNNIC. Indeed, as we reported on our blog, .cn applicants need to fill a form and provide photo ownership and copy of business license when registering a domain. In fact the registration was not possible at all for a couple of months. These measures have led a couple of big names among registrars, both at home and abroad (including Godaddy) to drop together their .cn registration service.

-The swift from Chinese companies to register international or other countries domain name extensions. Indeed with the uncertainty pending on the .cn registration and future possible regulatory changes, nobody wants to take the risk to registering a .cn and have his/her site shut down in the future.

-The overall increase of the .cn registration price. For years .cn have been offered as very low prices. With higher prices by the CNNIC imposed recently, and the additional workload to register new domains, registrars still offering this service have in most cases have increased substantially their prices for .cn registration.

The CNNIC to meet any new .cn domain applicant in person?

March 8th, 2010

Now that could be interesting

Want a .cn domain for your business in China? Think again

January 30th, 2010

The recent crackdown on dot cn domain names in China calls for a further thinking as to the use of a .cn domain name for your China-related business or website in general.

For a quick review, the CNNIC, the organization in charge of the administration of the .cn registry, issued a notice restricting Chinese domain names registration to registered businesses, with a pending period when the application should send back an application with their corporate seal on it (I am surprised they didn’t require the seal to be in red…), a copy of the business license (should be a photo scan, not a faxed version), a copy of the ID card (Chinese) or passport (foreigner) of the applicant. This decision was in line with the ongoing measures taken by the government to “clean up” the Internet in China. According to the CNNIC, these changes were needed to prevent .cn to be used for spamming. At the time, the CNNIC has assured that these changes would not affect domain names previously registered with their registrars.

Yet sure enough now we are in January, and a new notice has been issued by the CNNIC informing .cn domain holders to go through an “audit”. Basically domain owners need to submit either their ID card/passport scan, or business license copy, generally through the registrar through which they have registered the domain name. The deadline for submitting the documents was January 31st, which makes it technically impossible for the millions of domain names to be “audited” by passing the relevant documents through their few respective registrars. Furthermore, although most registrars have done their best to inform their clients by email, how many legitimate domain owners have not been informed of this rather unexpected requirement for various reasons. In case they disable the non-audited domains by February 1st as planned, it is reasonable to expect tens of thousands of websites going down.

It is interesting how the strategy of the CNNIC had quickly changed, from encouraging the expansion of the .cn registry with an aggressive marketing strategy and low prices for years (as low as one yuan at registrar levels), resulting in .cn domains becoming the second largest domain extension worldwide, to make it very difficult to even register for these domains.

Now, as a business owner, how do you feel about . I mean, there is no assurance some bureaucrat would not issue a notice that would basically shut down your site or take the domain you have taken years to build away from you. In this digital era domain names have become one of the most important assets of business organizations, although not reflected on balance sheets. It makes all the sense to make sure to select a registry where one has some type of basic assurance of not losing this asset.

Then there is the issue of privacy. Who can guarantee that the hundreds of passports copies that have been collected in this “audit” would not fall into unwanted hands. How secure are the databases of the CNNIC? The CNNIC after all is a Chinese government organization. In China where everything is about guangxis, there is no way that these valuable information would not be transferred to third parties if some cash is involved.

Some would say that it should be easy for a legitimate domain holder to comply, but with the many other extensions available, really, why go through the hassle? And when even companies like Google are at risk of losing their domains (google.cn), what kind of guarantee a small business has to retain ownership over its domain in case of new decisions or any issue with the Chinese government or another Chinese company?

Despite all the misconceptions, most businesses in China use .com domains, not .cn or .com.cn. Foreign companies are the ones with the greatest interest in dot cn to be more “Chinese”, which is understandable and is what they do in most cases in countries they have a presence in. However, given the realities of the Chinese internet industry, for new businesses or companies without actual operations in China, I would recommend to stick to the general extensions from the time being or use a sub-domain (such as cn.maindomain.com or china.maindomain.com).

Other extensions that are worth considering are as usual the .net, but also Hong Kong domain names (.hk, .com.hk if company is also registered in HK) or the fast growing .asia extension.

With their low price strategy, the CNNIC should have understood that it was making the .cn very attractive for for spammers. The other extension with low prices, the .info, is a proof of that.

Chinese domain name registration opened to individuals soon?

January 21st, 2010

Latest rumors have it that the CNNIC might open again registration of Chinese domain names to individuals again. This is just one month after the agency announced that dot cn registration could be done only by companies in the future. We will post on this as soon as we get any confirmation or news.

Godaddy stops dot cn registration

January 13th, 2010

As many other registrars, Godaddy has stopped accepting new registration for .cn domain names. But what is more worrying, is that they  “are working with our registry provider to determine the impact this change may have on relevant transfers and renewals”. If I were a .cn domain holder with Godaddy I would start to worry…

Company Reviews

December 29th, 2009

In this new section, we will be reviewing from time to time hosting companies, domain registrars, VPS, dedicated servers and colocation providers in China.

If you are one of such companies, please contact us for a free review.

Alibaba acquires Hichina

December 29th, 2009

Alibaba.com, the company most known for its B2B site but also Taobao.com and Alipay.com, has acquired 85% of Hichina, one of the top domain registrars and web hosting providers in mainland China. For more details please check the following link:

http://storage.digitalmedianet.com/articles/viewarticle.jsp?id=942003

Auditing of Chinese domain names

December 24th, 2009

Starting December 14th, the CNNIC, the organism in charge of the administration of the dot cn registry, will be “auditing” all new dot cn registrations.

Basically, upon registration, dot cn applicants will need to transmit through their registrar the following:

-A detailed application form with information on the domain owner, hosting company etc. The application should have the company seal on it.

-A copy of the business license of applicant

-A copy of the ID card/passport of applicant.

Indeed, one of the changes in the new regulations is that now only companies can register new dot cn domain names.

The new tougher registration signals a tremendous change in the direction taken by the CNNIC when it comes to the administration of the dot cn domain names. Indeed, so far the .cn has been pursuing a low pricing policy, with dot cns sometimes as low as 1 yuan, in order to push up the total number of dot cn registrations. This policy has been so far successful as the registry now ranks second worldwide just behind the dot com registry. This however has attracted loads of spammers and other illegal users, which has made the .cn one of the less secure domain registries available. The new measures therefore are an attempt to address this issue and improve the overall reputation of dot cn domain names.

The new regulations are not retroactive, meaning domain names registered previously are not affected and their owners do not need to file an application. Also I would not say that they are 100% safe, and nobody can guarantee that some time from now, especially when renewing, they will not be required to file some type of registration. Already there is a crackdown on existing domain names with “incorrect” information, with domain owners required to update their information or run the risk to lose ownership of their domains…

Crackdown on the Internet in China

December 24th, 2009

Since the following of this month there has been an increased pressure over the internet and web hosting in mainland China. There are two main aspects on the crackdown:

1-Web sites with illegal contents, i.e. adult contents/porn, political related, drugs and other subjects that are prohibited in China. Online forums and blogs are being shut down as well as scores of websites for mobile phones.

2-Websites operating without an ICP license. Sites hosted in China need to apply for an ICP license, now the authorities are enforcing that rule and shutting down sites or whole servers when found without the necessary licenses.

While this has happen before, this month a new method has been adopted by the regulators, which is to go directly to datacenters. Datacenters that are found to have a large number of illegal sites/sites without license are just shut down altogether. Earlier this month over 10 Shanghai Telecom datacenters were thus shut down, causing tens of thousands of websites, most of which legitimate or business related to go offline for over a week, causing outcry online among Chinese netizens. But it is not only Shanghai that is affected. All over the country websites and datacenters are being shut down or heavily regulated.

We will be posting more articles on this subject as we get more news on this.

My China Hosting Blog Launched

December 24th, 2009

At this eve of Christmas 2009 we are happy to launch My China Hosting Blog.

Our objective through this blog is to give knowledgeable updates on the web hosting industry in China, changes in regulations (which happen quite often in China!), but also interesting hosting offers from China hosting providers that could be of interest of our visitors.

Make sure to subscribe to be kept updated when new articles are posted!