Google announced today that it is selling its domain registrar business, Google Domains, to the website-building platform Squarespace. The sale, expected to close in Q3 2023, has surprised many as Google Domains has been a relatively successful venture.
With over 20 million domain names under its management, Google Domains is a large player in the industry (note: it was was reported that Google Domains sold 10 million domains to SquareSpace)
Opinion: Google did not do enough to address domain name abuse
However, the sale has faced criticism from those who argue that Google has not done enough to protect its customers from domain name abuse. Critics specifically point to Google’s slow response time in addressing reports of abuse.
For instance, in 2022, researchers discovered that Google took an average of 14 days to respond to reports of domain name abuse, significantly longer than the industry standard of 24 hours.
In another case, a user reported a hijacked domain name to Google, but the company failed to take action until the user contacted the media.
These studies suggest that Google’s response time to complaints of domain name abuse is slower than some other domain name registrars. For example, the study by the University of California, Berkeley found that the average response time for complaints to Nominet, a UK-based domain name registrar, was 3 days.
There are a few reasons why Google’s response time to complaints may have be slower than other registrars. One reason is that Google receives a lot of complaints. In 2022, Google received over 100 million complaints about phishing and other forms of abuse. This means that Google had to prioritize its resources across multiple products, including gmail, hosting, search and also domain names to name a few.
Another reason for Google’s slow response time may be that it has a complex bureaucracy. Complaints have to go through several different departments before they are resolved. This can add time to the process.
Brand protection agencies, including brandsec, have experienced similar delays and inefficiencies in resolving cases of domain name abuse, such as phishing attacks.
These examples highlight Google’s inadequate responsiveness to reports of domain name abuse, leaving customers feeling vulnerable to attacks that have resulted in delays in addressing very serious issues and heightened risk to consumers around the world.
Will Squarespace do any better?
It remains unclear whether Squarespace will excel in combating domain name abuse compared to Google. However, Squarespace has a reputation for being more responsive to customer feedback, suggesting a greater likelihood of swift action upon receiving reports of abuse.
Considering Google’s status as one of the largest companies globally, it enjoyed a certain level of leniency regarding the Registry Accreditation Agreement (RAA) compared to most entities. Consequently, it was highly unlikely that ICANN would hold Google accountable for non-compliance or take any action to address the issue. However, with Squarespace’s substantial investment in the domain name business, one can hope that ICANN will exert more influence over Squarespace to ensure compliance with the RAA.
Only time will tell if Squarespace can address the concerns raised about Google Domains. Nevertheless, the sale serves as a reminder to select a domain registrar that promptly responds to abuse reports.
How to protect yourself from domain name abuse
If you are concerned about domain name abuse, consider the following steps to safeguard yourself:
- Monitor third-party domain name registrations.
- Use a reputable DMAC solution, like Proofpoint.
- Educate your customers about phishing attacks.
- Immediately report any suspicious activity to your domain registrar.
- By following these recommendations, you can help protect yourself from domain name abuse.
brandsec is an Australian domain name management provider that offers online brand management solutions to corporate and government organizations.
Our services encompass domain name management, domain name security, domain name policy development, dispute management, monitoring, and enforcement services. Additionally, brandsec provides a comprehensive online brand protection service, covering platforms such as websites, social media, email, and online marketplaces. This service addresses issues related to counterfeiting, fakes, copyright infringement, intellectual property (IP) matters, piracy, and other intellectual protection-related concerns.