What is Domain Privacy?

What is Domain Privacy?

The ICANN, the organization that governs domain names, requires that personally identifiable information be publicly available and registered with the registrar. This means that your name (first and last), postal address, email address and phone number is publicly visible to the world to see. Domain Privacy is a highly recommended add-on to help protect your personal information.

The Problem

The obvious problem is that your home address, home or mobile phone number and email address are visible for the world to see.  At a minimum, this greatly increases the amount of unwanted spam email and spam postal mail sent to you.  And even more dangerous is that the entire world can possibly know your home address.

What to know how easy this is?  Go to whois.net and put in any domain name you want.  Here is an example of a domain name that I own (with fake information):

Domain Name: AZMINGLE.COM
Registry Domain ID: 1665139788_DOMAIN_COM-VRSN
Registrar WHOIS Server: whois.netearthone.com
Registrar URL: http://www.netearthone.com
Updated Date: 2018-07-02T18:29:46Z
Creation Date: 2011-07-04T04:05:49Z
Registrar Registration Expiration Date: 2018-07-04T04:05:49Z
Registrar: NetEarth One, Inc.
Registrar IANA ID: 1005
Domain Status: clientTransferProhibited https://icann.org/epp#clientTransferProhibited
Registry Registrant ID: Not Available From Registry
Registrant Name: John Smith
Registrant Organization:
Registrant Street: One E. Lexington Ave #1622
Registrant City: Phoenix
Registrant State/Province: Arizona
Registrant Postal Code: 85012
Registrant Country: US
Registrant Phone: +1.1234567890
Registrant Phone Ext:
Registrant Fax:
Registrant Fax Ext:

Why Does ICANN Require This?

It is not that ICANN is actually trying to steal your information.  ICANN has dealt with their share of lawsuits over people losing their domain names because contact information was not up-to-date.  They require contact information to be current and publicly available in case of trademark infringement or other legal issues relating to domain names.  We suspect that this will change in the future, but for now, it is what it is.

The Privacy Solution

Most companies offer a solution to this problem called Whois Privacy or Domain Privacy.  It is an option where the registrar puts their information on the public whois database to act as the middle man for all domain related correspondence while keeping your contact information private.  This is typically a paid product but will convert the public information above to the following (the registrar replaces the registrant):

Domain Name: AZMINGLE.COM
Registry Domain ID: 1665139788_DOMAIN_COM-VRSN
Registrar WHOIS Server: whois.advancedregistrar.com
Registrar URL: http://www.netearthone.com
Updated Date: 2018-05-21T02:07:36Z
Creation Date: 2011-07-04T04:05:49Z
Registry Expiry Date: 2018-07-04T04:05:49Z
Registrar: NetEarth One Inc. d/b/a NetEarth
Registrar IANA ID: 1005
Registrar Abuse Contact Email: a-b-u-s-e.whois.field@netearthone.com
Registrar Abuse Contact Phone: +44 02030 26 99 87
Domain Status: clientTransferProhibited https://icann.org/epp#clientTransferProhibited
Name Server: NS1.GOFER.HOST
Name Server: NS2.GOFER.HOST
DNSSEC: unsigned
URL of the ICANN Whois Inaccuracy Complaint Form: https://www.icann.org/wicf/
>>> Last update of whois database: 2018-07-02T18:29:01Z <<<

Conclusion

Some companies are OK with publishing their address and phone numbers and in these cases it is fine to not have privacy on a domain.  For the rest of us, we highly recommend domain privacy to protect your personal information.  We recommended it so much that at one point GoferHost included Domain Privacy in all domains by default.  If you have any questions relating to Domain Privacy or anything else, submit a support request or send us an email to contact@gofer.host.

About the Author
Jeff Kershner
Jeff Kershner is a veteran web developer with over 15 years professional experience. He now consults for a few companies and is the Director of Engineering at GoferHost.