WASHINGTON: Go Daddy, the world's largest domain name registration company, will cease registering websites in China in response to rules that require applicants to provide extensive personal data, including photographs of themselves.
The company believes the rules are an effort by China to increase monitoring and surveillance of website content and could put individuals who register their sites with the firm at risk.
It says they will have a ''chilling effect'' on domain name registrations.
Go Daddy's decision follows Google's announcement this week that it will no longer censor search results on its site in China.
Analysts and human rights advocates have warned that China's insistence on censorship and control over information is becoming a serious barrier to trade.
In December China began to enforce a new policy that required any registrant of a new .cn domain name to provide a colour headshot and other business identification, including a Chinese business registration number and physical signed registration forms.
That data was to be forwarded to the China Internet Network Information Centre.
Most domain name registries require only a name, address, telephone number and email address.
''We were immediately concerned about the motives behind the increased level of registrant verification being required,'' Christine Jones, general counsel of the Go Daddy Group, told a US congressional committee on China on Wednesday.
''The intent of the procedures appeared, to us, to be based on a desire by the Chinese authorities to exercise increased control over the subject matter of domain name registrations by Chinese nationals.''
Ms Jones said China was the first country to retroactively seek additional verification and documentation of registrants.
She said Go Daddy's decision to stop registering new domains was not related to Google's announcement.
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