Once you have finally found the correct domain name and verified that the domain name privacy is available, you will quickly see that registering it requires the company from which you buy it to provide your contact information. They then have to pass the information to the directory of ICANN WHOIS, which publishes it for all the world to see.
Domain name privacy is an add-on service provided by several domain registration companies that, while keeping you in accordance with the law, keep your personal details private.
What is the ICANN WHOIS Directory?
ICANN (The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is the non-profit organization responsible for managing the larger internet domain name system. This involves generating new top-level domains and root name servers that operate. But running the WHOIS directory is the task they’re most known for.
The WHOIS directory keeps a record of each domain of the active website and who is running it. ICANN does not manage it entirely on its own, working with a number of ICANN accredited registrants to offer domain registration services. You don’t go directly through ICANN when you register a domain; you do so with one of these services. They then provide ICANN, which adds it to the directory, with the required information.
Each domain name has its own entry in the WHOIS directory includes:
What is the ICANN WHOIS Directory?
When your contact information is widely available on the web, a few types of people inevitably get into your hands:
- Those looking to buy your domain name. If you want a domain name that is not available, one of the first places to do a domain lookup is the WHOIS database to try to find the individual who owns the domain. This is a fairly harmless directory use. Even if you’re not interested in selling your domain name, hearing from people asking is not that obnoxious.
- Those looking to sell you something. Individuals and companies selling different online services often play a game of numbers when they coldly contact potential prospects. They know you have a website and may potentially need what they offer when they can find your information in the directory. They can call, text, and email with the information available at WHOIS. Even if their deals are valid, it is something most people would not welcome to receive a barrage of contact from service providers.
- Those looking to scam you. Before they can convince you to wire over that money that you don’t actually owe or provide your credit card information for the product they’ll never send, scammers need a way to contact you. For them to find that information, the WHOIS directory is as good a place as any. And it’s simple to scrape for information, so without much effort, they can get a lot of contact info all at once.
It opens you up to spammers looking for any way to get their foot in the door to start selling or scamming you whenever contact information becomes accessible. While some legitimate business contacts may also put you within reach, the ratio of good contacts to unnecessary or bad ones is usually not in your favor.
How to keep your data out of the Public Directory?
While when you purchase the domain, you are required to provide your information, it is not required that the information be easily accessible on the wide web.
And that’s not actually a workable solution before you think you can just provide fake contact information to solve the problem. For one thing, for all domain name management issues, such as renewal reminders, you need your domain registration company to be able to contact you. For another, you will be on the wrong side of the law, and ICANN can cancel your domain name or hand it over to someone else if there’s a problem or dispute down the line.
Technically, you have the choice of generating a new email address and investing in a P.O. Box to provide legitimate information that is not your primary information for personal contacts. If you forget to check it periodically, the problem is that you risk missing out on significant communication about your domain name.
By using a domain name privacy service, you can remove your contact information from the WHOIS directory without running under the law.
Instead of seeing your contact data when they search for you, for privacy reasons, people will see a record where most of the data is redacted.
3 Reasons Why – Domain Privacy Worth It?
You don’t want the simple act of starting a website to mean that all your personal contact information is out there for anyone to see if you go through life trying to be careful of who you give your personal information to. Domain name privacy is worth it for three major reasons for many website owners.
1. Protect your personal information
How comfortable are you with the idea of your address and phone number being known by random strangers? Even if it’s a business address and phone number instead of a personal one, that’s probably still where you spend a lot of your time every day. For many individuals, the possibility that anyone can figure out where to find you with a simple Internet search is disconcerting.
There’s a very real risk of identity theft, in addition to the general discomfort you might feel. Each piece of information about you that is easily accessible to thieves puts you at risk of identity theft a little more. With high-level companies showing up with increasing frequency in the news for data breaches, there is only so much you can do to fully protect yourself, but every little step you can take to make it more difficult to find your personal information reduces your risk.
2. Reduce spam
In so many areas of life, we’re all inundated with spam. Phone calls from weird numbers. Emails from unknown sources containing goods that you would never buy. You’re probably going to deal with some spam no matter what, but you are just making it easier for them when your email address and phone number are easily accessible in a directory.
Domain privacy provides you with protection from spammers who have one more place to find you.
3. Avoid scammers
If something is worse than spammers, they’re scammers. Internet and phone scams are common, and the more people know about you, the more likely you are to be targeted in another area.
And the more scammers have information, the more convincing they can be. They can pose as your domain registration company and try to get you to pay them rather than your real company if they see your domain registration is about to expire.
Or they could go the other way and attempt domain hijacking by posing as you are trying to persuade your domain registration company to hand over the keys to your domain. That last part is difficult to pull off, as businesses have put procedures in place to make domain hijacking very difficult but having access to your personal information along with information about your domain registration makes it much easier to pull off these types of scams.
3 Downsides to Investing in Domain Name Privacy
The reasons for investing in the privacy of domain names are quite compelling but considering all sides of a decision is always good. With domain name protection, there are also a few downsides to going.
1. It costs money
Typically, domain name privacy means paying an extra fee on top of your registration for your domain. And it’s not something you pay once and you’re done, you’re going to pay again every year at renewal time. The cost may be a large enough sticking point for some website owners to opt not to invest in the privacy of domain names.
2. It may not offer full protection
Unfortunately, not all domain registrars are reputable and there have been instances of businesses selling the data paid to them by customers to keep private. One thing is to protect the WHOIS directory data, but you still need to be careful if you want to keep your contact information really safe. Make sure it’s a well-respected business with a strong reputation for taking care of its clients.
3. It means less transparency
When potential clients want to confirm your company’s legitimacy, the ability to confirm who you are and where you are located tells them that you are real. For that information, most clients don’t go straight to the WHOIS directory, and you can probably provide good information to show your legitimacy on your website and in your marketing. But one more way to exhibit transparency to your clients is to allow the directory to publish your information.
The advantages of domain name privacy will outweigh the downsides for most companies, but there may be some instances where it is worth it to keep your information public in the directory.
How Do I Get Domain Name Privacy?
It’s pretty straightforward to add WHOIS privacy. The process varies between registrars, but at the time of registration, or after, there are only two ways to add it.
1. Purchase when registering a domain
Once you have landed your perfect domain name, before finalizing the checkout process, you should see the option to add domain privacy. Add your cart to this.
2. Add to an existing domain
You may add privacy protection at a later date, applying it at any point in time to a registered domain. If you have the option to enforce privacy from the get-go, however, do so. If you did not immediately apply privacy, your data would be publicly accessible. Tools are available that allow individuals to find previously listed domain ownership data, transfer history, and a domain’s historic sales records.
If you are not using your current domain’s privacy protection and are getting spammed, then buy it. When you have privacy protection, your email and phone spam will be greatly reduced.