Maintaining Domain Privacy
In the 21st century, identity theft runs rampant. It’s important to take every precaution to safeguard your information. You might not think of your budding blog or startup as a conduit for your personal information, but each can be if you don’t use the domain privacy option when registering your domain.
Domain Privacy Protection
Choosing domain privacy protection saves you from sharing your name, address, email, and phone number in the WhoIs database. This inexpensive option lets you maintain anonymity. The law requires that when you purchase a domain, the domain registrar must report your personal identifying information to Internet Association for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), part of the international Know Your Customer (KYC) initiative. The identity information goes into the publicly accessible WhoIs database. Choosing the domain privacy option lets you submit your required information to your registrar and lets your registrar replace it with its own information, called proxy contact.
WhoIs has its positive uses. It provides ICANN a way to hold domain owners accountable for what occurs on their site. It provides a measure of scam protection. It also functions as the Internet phone directory, allowing people to get in touch with a domain owner if there are problems with their site or other issues. It also has its downside though, since it lets sales representatives, spammers and scammers contact you directly. This can include an all too common renewal services scam that dupes users into transfer and early renewal of your domain, also costing you additional fees.
Who Needs Domain Privacy?
One simple WhoIs database download by an unscrupulous person puts all of your private contact information at risk and provides the basis for identity theft. While big businesses like Amazon and Google don’t need to worry, a few situations merit privacy:
- solopreneurs and bloggers who work from home,
- websites publishing controversial or objectionable matter,
- individuals running a website.
When registering a domain, purchase the domain privacy option. For each domain you register at that time, select the private information option. You can also add privacy to a domain you already registered. A few registries do not allow domain privacy, so check before choosing. Without this, the WhoIs Database download contains all of your personally identifiable information and remains available to everyone. Anyone downloading the database obtains:
- the organization,
- registrant name,
- e-mail addresses,
- registration address,
- registrar data,
- creation and expiration dates,
- last update date,
- domain age,
The WhoIs database provides the WhoIs data for more than 300 million domains across 2,864 top level domains (TLDs), so whether you register a .com, an .info, or a .uk, or some other TLD, your information is at risk in the downloader’s choice of MYSQL, MYSQL dump or CSV file.
While it may be tempting to skirt the small domain privacy fee by adding mock data, it can lose you your domain. Using false information violates ICANN regulations. Any suspicious party can lodge a complaint with ICANN. The organization will offer you an opportunity to update information, but the safe way is to purchase domain privacy.