Now this is bizarre. But apparently GoDaddy is being accused of releasing personally identifiable information (a woman’s email address) to someone who she’s accusing of being a spammer. And GoDaddy apparently released her email address to the spammer after she filled out an abuse complaint. The spammer wanted to know who had complained about their website, so GoDaddy gave them her email address. Of course, without permission.
Now that the accused spammer has this woman’s email address, they were apparently able to find out who she is, and has started harassing her online.
If you fill out an abuse claim form, turning in someone’s website because it violates a web host’s Terms of Service, do you have a reasonable expectation that your personal information won’t be given to the person you’re complaining about?
GoDaddy’s abuse policy is this:
“Go Daddy.com does not allow illegal content on our customer’s websites. However, as a hosting provider, it is not our place to determine if the site you have mentioned is actually engaging in illegal activities. If you suspect any of our customers are using their website to engage in any illegal activities, please help us by contacting your local law enforcement agency, and request them to investigate this situation. Please refer to our Universal Terms of Service Agreement for specifics on our policies.”
But does this policy include the fact that GoDaddy reserves the right to release your email address to the person who you complained about? Consider the fact that when you have someone’s email address, you can get their contact information (and full name) usually by a few ways:
– Google their email address
– Use DomainTools’ services to look up domain names owned by that email address. If they didn’t use whois privacy on ALL domains at all times then they’ll find you.
– Put the email address in Gmail and it may come up with a Google Account, and even a photo of the person.
– Put the email address in Google Plus and it may show show they are, as well.
So, in my mind, having someone’s email address is just as if you had their personal information.
Should GoDaddy have released this woman’s personal information like this? Here’s her blog post showing all of the information and where she explains what happened: