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Domain Privacy Protection: Is It Worth It?

When registering a new domain, there’s a common misconception that your contact details are sold on by the domain name provider to third parties.

This is because once people have registered a new domain name they are often targeted by marketing emails from web design, SEO and marketing services.

Domain Names
 
The truth is, domain name providers are required by ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) to obtain contact details for the domain registrant which is then stored on the WHOIS database. The database contains contact and registration information for every domain registered with a particular registrar, in order to keep track of who’s responsible for domains and IP addresses.

The problem is that this publicly-available data is often abused and it’s a growing concern across the industry. Third party companies often obtain registrant details via ICANN and WHOIS lookups of domain names.

Although sometimes the data can be helpful, and the marketing leads a company receives can be of use, it often has a negative impact. The open-ness of this data has led to spammers performing various searches on this data to gain access to people contact details to target them with services and in some cases infecting emails with malware.

So, what can you do about it?

To prevent abuse of registrant’s data many providers offer domain privacy services. As explained above, ICANN require the contact details of the registrant (customer) to have a domain name.
However, if the registrant does not wish for their details to be displayed publically on the WHOIS database, with some providers they have the option to activate the domain privacy settings where their contact details on the WHOIS database will be replaced by a proxy (normally the details of the provider).

Why would I keep my information on the WHOIS database?

It is important to point out that the WHOIS database does offer good online support. This database gives the ability to track people who may be selling something illegal. If this is suspected a WHOIS lookup can be performed on the domain name and if the registrant’s details are visible they can then be contacted and further actions taken if required.
The WHOIS database is an invaluable tool with regards to online crime but domain privacy is also a good option for businesses who want their details to be kept private.