GoDaddy Is Giving Texas Abortion Snitching Site the Boot

GoDaddy Is Giving Texas Abortion Snitching Site the Boot
Photo: Erich Schlegel / Stringer, Getty Images

After users threatened to boycott the internet domain service GoDaddy for hosting the newly-established tip line that allows Texans to anonymously snitch on private citizens they suspect of performing an abortion after six weeks or anyone who “aids or abets” such abortions in the state, the company abruptly announced that it is booting the site from its servers over terms of service violations.

“We have informed prolifewhistleblower.com they have 24 hours to move to another provider for violating our terms of service,” Dan C. Race, a GoDaddy spokesman, told Gizmodo in an email. The company first informed the New York Times of the 24-hour window to find another hosting provider “late Thursday,” meaning it likely has just hours to do so or, presumably, it will go offline.

At the time of publication, the site’s “anonymous tip” page appeared to be either offline or severely busted. Multiple attempts to access the tip line led Gizmodo to a page declaring “access denied.” Other parts of the site remained accessible, however.

The site was established by Texas Right To Life, the anti-abortion group that has long crusaded against a woman’s right to choose in the Lone Star State. As Gizmodo previously reported, the very nature of the website appeared to run counter to GoDaddy’s terms of service, which stipulate that customers cannot use its platform in a manner that “violates the privacy or publicity rights of another User or any other person or entity, or breaches any duty of confidentiality that you owe to another User or any other person or entity.”

A site that explicitly encourages people to narc on their neighbours by revealing privileged medical information seems to be in pretty clear violation of those standards, one might think, which is exactly what prolifewhistleblower.com did.

“Any Texan can bring a lawsuit against an abortionist or someone aiding and abetting an abortion after six weeks,” the website reads. “If these individuals are proved to be violating the law, they have to pay a fine of at least $US10,000 ($13,416).”

As outrage over the passage of new anti-abortion law — which essentially amounts to an outright ban on the procedure itself — spread online, Twitter users called for a boycott of GoDaddy and trolls flooded the digital tip line with everything from Shrek porn to phony tips. The site later set up CAPTCHA protections to avoid these efforts, but now the whole thing is broken if not entirely offline.

So far, it looks like the security service Sucuri — which GoDaddy owns — is still hosting the tip line, which means it will likely have to evacuate to a new host or go dark soon. But if the slimy legal manoeuvre pro-life groups used to jam the six-week ban through the legislature in the first place is any indication, where there’s a will, there’s a way, and even if it’s forced to temporarily recalibrate, we’ll undoubtedly see this scourge back online in due time.