Although “authoritarian control” might be the first thing you think of when the Internet in China comes to mind, you might be surprised to find that China’s control extends all the way to registering it’s internet domain names.
In the past I’ve registered .com, .net, and .us internet domains but this week I registered my first .cn address – and unlike the domains I’ve registered before, .cn addresses are administered by the PRC’s Ministry of Information.
Before I get into what’s involved, I want to make sure you’re clear what registering an ordinary .com or .net internet domain involves:
It’s a painless, two-minute process where you pay about $10 a year using credit card or PayPal.
The domain starts working within hours (a delay caused by DNS propagation) and no one approves or denies any requests. It’s an efficient process because humans don’t get involved: the entire thing is managed by networked computers and you change your name server or (and domain ownership) info with your automatically-configured username and password.
When you register a .cn address, you’ll think everything is going great. But the address won’t work, and your domain registrar might not even know what’s going on. I use GoDaddy, among the most well-known and trusted domain registrars around, and this really messed them up.
I had been sending and receiving e-mail from GoDaddy support for a week before either of us could figure out that as of December 2009, there’s a new auditing process for Chinese domain names. It’s hard to see who benefits from such a strict control measure in the face of easy and cheap alternative domains like .com and .net which are still accessible in China.
I really don’t see many .cn domain names getting registered in the near future when you can save $20 and avoid this headache with a tried-and-trusted .com address.
Here’s the actual message I received listing the requirements:
Thank you for your recent .CN domain name purchase.
The China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) has implemented new registration requirements. Effective immediately, only businesses will be allowed to register .CN domain names, and they will be required to submit a formal paper-based application at the time of registration. The CNNIC will need to receive this information within 5 calendar days of the online registration.
If CNNIC does not receive the application form and supporting documentation (including personal ID) within 5 calendar days of the submission of the online application for the domain name, OR the documentation provided does not pass CNNIC’s audit requirements within 5 calendar days of the submission of the online application for the domain name, then the application will be deleted.
Required documentation for ALL applications includes:
a) The “domain name registration application form” (see attachment), with the seal of the business OR signature of a representative from the business. IMPORTANT NOTE: The Admin contact ID, Technical contact ID, Payment contact ID and Representative (Registrant ID on the hard copy application form) MUST match the information provided in the fields during the online application for the domain name.
b) A photocopy of the business license. “Business license” means the official document of the business, company or organization (such as company or organization registration).
c) A photocopy of the applicant’s personal ID. Acceptable personal ID may include a copy of a driver’s license, passport or resident card/ID.
Please email this information to [email protected], or you may fax it to (480) 247-4116. Please allow a minimum of five calendar days for processing.
If you would like more information about this policy change, please visit the CNNIC website by using the link provided below:
Needless to say, I registered a .info address.
It’s a compromise, I admit, but it cost $1 (compared to $30 for the .cn address) and was registered and working in an instant.
No human review process or official business stamps involved!
What do you think? Leave a message in the comments below!