How ICANN and WHOIS Works
When you buy a domain name, you're required to register the ownership of your domain name to its governing agency ICANN. This is just like when you buy a car and need to register it with your state.
ICANN, which stands for Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, is the nonprofit responsible for the organization and maintenance of IP addresses and the DNS or Domain Name System.
In other words, it ensures no two people own the same addresses. The internet wouldn’t exactly work if there were three nike.com’s right?
Thus, it’s critical in order to own a domain name you've to register to ensure it'll be unique to you.
To that end, the registration is public record and can be looked up on the ICANN website or through WHOIS. WHOIS is simply a database that holds the records.
Why is it Public Record?
Your registration is public record so you may be contacted for business regarding your domain. For example, if someone wanted to purchase your domain name or there was a legal dispute regarding it.
The problem arises in the unfortunate fact not all people have good intentions. While it may make sense for this information to be public in some regards, domain name privacy is an important part of web safety.
This is why businesses offer domain name privacy options in which they act as an in-between for the domain owner.
The Core Benefits of Domain Name Privacy
Your personal privacy is protected from real world dangers.
This is probably one of the largest concerns with public domain name registration. Granting rather easy access to your full legal name, personal address, phone number and email isn't exactly ideal.
You’re exposing yourself to a higher risk of identity theft. Additionally, if you’re dealing with someone upset with something you produce online, you may be opening yourself up to being tracked down.
Domain name privacy eliminates this issue.
Domain name privacy stops the spam train before it starts.
It may be a low on the totem pole tactic but without domain name privacy, don’t be surprised if you’re contacted repeatedly for offers. You'll see offers on logos, website building, marketing and any and every possible service that could in the dimmest ways be relevant to you. Some of which may even be offensive.
It makes sense newly registered domains would be targeted; however, it doesn’t make it any less frustrating. Additionally, since there is a lack of accountability in contacting you the potential of these offers being scams is high.
With domain name privacy there will be no email or phone number for spammers to even try to contact you.
You’ll be protecting your personal information from being sold.
Data – information – is the currency of the internet age. Domain name privacy protects your personal information from being sold by data scrapers. Again, this is an issue of whether you want your personal information available for use without your direct knowledge or agreement.
The Drawbacks of Domain Name Privacy
There are very few drawbacks to domain name privacy.
Some argue businesses lose a potential entryway for web traffic by closing off a way for their site to be found. However, this argument is shaky at best because web traffic for web traffic’s sake isn’t what most businesses are after. The quality of traffic matters.
Traffic through a WHOIS or ICANN lookup isn't likely to generate a lead or make a sale.
Another possible drawback is domain name privacy usually comes with a monetary cost. Though, this cost usually isn’t high and can be well worth a peace of mind. The only real concern with domain name privacy is it could make it more difficult to be reached for legitimate concerns. However, more difficult isn't the same as impossible.
Is Domain Name Privacy Worth It?
In a word, yes.
The drawbacks to domain name privacy aren’t a real issue. So, if there aren’t any real drawbacks, then you’re simply left with all the benefits. And the benefits are more than just worth it, they’re necessary.