What is ENS and why does it have beef with web giant GoDaddy?

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Ethereum Name Service (ENS) regained control of the Eth.link domain after filing a lawsuit against the web host company GoDaddy. The backers of ENS, True Names Ltd., alleged that GoDaddy improperly sold the Eth.link domain to another party named Manifold Finance.

ENS says its website is now back online and functioning like normal.

Read more: Are blockchain domains really immutable and what does this mean for brands?

True Names filed its case with the US District Court for the District of Arizona. According to court documents, Eth.link would have expired on July 26, 2023, however, GoDaddy claimed that the domain expired on July 26, 2022, and sold it on September 3, 2022.

True Names Ltd. sought $75,000 in damages, not including legal fees, and a temporary restraining order against GoDaddy.

Whois records on GoDaddy indicate that eth.link is registered with Dynadot, LLC, and will expire on July 26, 2023 — exactly the date that True Names Ltd. claimed.

The person responsible for renewing the domain, Virgil Griffith, is currently serving a five-year prison sentence. He pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate international sanctions in a case related to a presentation he gave on how to use digital assets to get around sanctions at an event in North Korea.

What is ENS anyway?

Domain Name Service (DNS) makes it possible for your web browser to know what you mean when you type a website name like “Google.com” or “Bitcoin.org” into the address bar. It provides a way to match human-readable domain names with servers that use strings of numbers separated by periods (“”) as an addressing scheme.

ENS works in a similar fashion and claims to be more usable for distributed web properties that might not have a centralized web server. It uses a system called the InterPlanetary FileSystem (IPFS), which can store content on a distributed file system. This system can take a “human-readable” ENS domain and match it with an Ethereum address or the appropriate resources in the distributed file system.

Privacy Pass’s .eth domain appears to use the IPFS system, for instance.

ENS domains typically end in .eth instead of the more familiar .com, .org, or .gov. ENS gets around this with an alternative to DNS called EthDNS, a DNS-over-HTTPS protocol that can be accessed most easily by setting up a DNS proxy pointed at Eth.link’s DNS query page.

Domains that end in .eth are not top-level domains recognized by the DNS protocol, so web browsers that don’t use a DNS proxy would have to append the .link domain to the end of the URL to find it.

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Who uses ENS?

Ethereum Name Service users include Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum team lead Péter Szilágyi, the “Bored Elon Musk” Twitter account, and professional soccer player Mario Goetze. A search on Twitter turns up hundreds of accounts with .eth domain. Anyone who might be interested in setting up an Ethereum wallet can set up a .eth domain for it.

Losing the eth.link domain didn’t necessarily mean that all these people would have lost their .eth domains. At most, they might have had to switch the top-level domain that DNS would have recognized. In its tweet, ENS mentioned that eth.limo also exists.

GoDaddy hasn’t issued a statement on the return of eth.link, likely because the lawsuit is still ongoing. True Names Ltd. simply gained a temporary injunction returning eth.link pending any further proceedings in this case. If the court rules in its favor or GoDaddy chooses not to fight the case, the return will become permanent.

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