What Is Domain Privacy And Why Is It Important?

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At some point during the process of coming up with blog name ideas, you’ll want to rush out and register a domain for your blog.

But before you do, we need to talk a little bit about domain name registration and why domain privacy is important.

The Importance of Domain Privacy

Whenever you register a domain name you need to provide the registrar with your contact details. There are 4 pieces of information you need to provide :

  • Administrative Contact – The admin contact is the person appointed to manage the domain name. They have complete control over the domain name
  • Registrant Contact – This is the company or individual who has the right to use or sell the domain.
  • Technical Contact – The technical contact is the person who is responsible for maintaining the DNS nameservers associated with the domain name.
  • Billing Contact – This is the person who is responsible for renewing the domain.

Most individuals use the same information for all 4 contacts but companies sometimes use different contact information for the billing and technical contacts.

I remind you all that you should not let a hosting company register a domain name for you as you will not have full control over the domain name. Even if they are offering them for $1.99, don’t do it.

Hosting companies usually put themselves as the admin contact which means that in the eyes of the law they own the domain and not you.

Whois Details

The contact details I mentioned above are known as the Whois Information. These details are made public and anyone can see the whois information of a domain name simply by searching for it.

This of course brings up some privacy concerns. A lot of people, for many different reasons, don’t like their home address and phone number plastered all over the web.

Because of this, millions of domain name owners use false whois information. Government authorities don’t like this as they want to be able to track down the owner of any illegal site.

Unless you’re purposely trying to start an anonymous blog, I wouldn’t recommend anyone putting false information in their whois because in the event of any domain dispute you could find yourself in a difficult situation because the registrar can’t confirm you are who you say you are. However, many still use false information to their whois.

If you are worried about your private information being posted on the web then a much better alternative is to purchase a Domain Shield from the registrar (it’s sometimes known as ID Protect, Whois Privacy Protect or something similar, it depends on which domain registration company you are using).

By paying an additional fee you can switch your whois info from Public to Private. This reduces the chances of someone stealing your identity and makes it harder for spam companies to add your email to their spam list.

The privacy shield usually costs around $10 a year but it depends on which company you use to register your domains. Which begs the questions:

  1. Is this $10 a good investment?
  2. Should you be hiding your whois information?

Do you need to protect your whois information?

A few years ago I banned a member on a forum I ran.

That domain had it’s whois protected but the member found out about another website I owned which didn’t have the whois privacy option enabled. He posted my home address publicly and told other disgruntled members to send spam to my home.

Thankfully nothing happened and the members quickly recognised him as the idiot he was but it did highlight the fact that I don’t want my home address made public.

Since then I have paid extra to make my whois information private. I currently pay an extra $8 a year for ID Protect for every domain which I have developed (not including some personal websites). In total I have protected 14 domains so this is an additional $112 in registration costs.

However, I do not pay for ID Protect on other domains I own (around 30) and I am planning on purchasing more so I decided to ask members of DNForum if they used the whois privacy option and whether they thought it was worth it.

The responses were varied :

  • Some members do not protect their whois info.
  • Some have setup a company address and PO box with the phone number redirected to voice mail.
  • Some use fake addresses and emails for their whois info.
  • Some do pay extra to protect their whois information.

Many domainers believe that you should always keep your whois public so that any potential buyers can contact you. I think this is a wise decision for domains which you are looking to sell however if you develop a domain privacy may still be a concern. And just how much security does ID Protect give you? A little but not as much as you may think.

What surprised me was that when you pay the registration company extra to protect your whois information they change the name of the admin contact to their company name so technically speaking, they own the domain name and not you.

I don’t believe any domain name company worth its salt would take the domain from you but it’s something to bear in mind.

Something which does concern me is the security of my whois information and it’s not as secure as you may think.

Apparently, most domain registrars will give up the whois information of a domain name to anyone who calls up. Surely this defeats the point of paying for whois privacy in the first place?

In my opinion, yes and no. I’m not happy about the fact that anyone who puts a little effort into calling my domain registration company can find out my whois information but that info is a little more difficult to find and at least my email address is not public so spam is not a major concern.

Overview

Domainers seem to be split about whether protecting your whois information is worth it. After hearing what other domain traders think and reading several articles about the topic I have come to the conclusion that ID protection is a personal choice.

If you are not concerned about your home address and phone number being placed on the net then ID Protect is obviously a waste of money. If privacy is a concern then I recommend paying a little extra to protect the whois information of domains you develop.

Whether you protect the whois of undeveloped domains is entirely up to you. I do agree that making your whois information public will increase the chances of someone contacting you about a sale. But then again, they can simply send you an email if you’ve set up an email address using your domain.

Related: How to create a blog that’s build to sell

However, if you have placed the domain for sale on a popular domain marketplace (eg. Sedo) the buyer will be able to place an offer on the domain anyways (though they will not be able to contact you about any specifics) and you can always list all of your domains for sale on a private portfolio page and a quick search would highlight this page to any potential buyers.

Therefore in my opinion, whether you pay extra to protect the whois of domains you are not developing comes down to how much you can afford.

With the ID Protect costing about the same as a standard domain renewal it’s clear the more domains you own the less likely you are to pay extra to protect the whois.

Do you think it’s worth paying a little extra to protect your whois information? Or would you rather setup a PO Box and use a skype phone number or some equivalent for your phone number?

I’d love to hear what you all think of the subject. Let me know by dropping a comment below.

A detailed discussion on the importance of domain privacy protection for anyone who has a domain booked, either for personal or professional reasons. 
With the economy going the way it is going, and we are trying to save our hard earned money wherever we can, it is evident to question the need for buying extra” add-on” features for the different services we use.
But, if you are in the habit of saying ‘no’ without even hearing the details of offers, you may miss out on certain features that could benefit you more.
The Internet can turn into a nightmare one day! There is easy access to your personal information; this means practically anyone can intrude into your private information and find out your details like phone number, email id and even your mail address.
Although it doesn’t happen frequently yet one needs to be careful about fraudsters, stalkers and even spammers who can put you in a loop.

What is Domain Privacy Protection?

Before we take our discussion any further, it is always good to know what we are talking about.
In Domain privacy, the personal information of the domain registrants is hidden from the public database.
WHOIS is an organization managing all the information related to the domain registration. All public information of the registrant including the details of name servers and other domain registrations details like renewal, registration and expiry dates are stored.
If anyone is aware of the registered domain name, it is easy for them to retrieve all the public information from WHOIS search tool. If you have the requisite privacy protection, then all your public information is masked.
This comprises of hiding your personal name, phone, email, business name and address and display a generic registrar-generated information instead.

Why would you want to use Private Domain Registration?

When you purchase a domain, ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) requires to enter the site owner’s contact information. Thus, you have an obligation to submit some data. Thus, unless you have opted for Private Domain Registration, all your private information will go public. You would not want this, isn’t?
With Privacy protection, all the personal information is hidden from strangers. This is one of the most common reason for site owners to go for Domain Privacy Protection.
These days, the internet is accessible to all. Thus almost all have the potential to access your phone number, email address and mailing address.
If your website contains certain content on hotly-contested or controversial topics, it is always advisable to keep your personal details hidden from complete strangers.
Marketers and spammers make use of WHOIS database to collect the public information of domain owners to send them spam emails. If you have privacy protection, you need not worry about any intrusion.
It is always better to be aware of certain scams you may be prone to. Certain companies may send emails that may look like invoices for the renewal of your domains, but actually, they are a payment to make you move your domain from one registrar to another.
Thus, it is better to be aware whether your domain actually needs renewal or not.
Reasons You Need to Have Domain Privacy Protection
Here they are:

  1. Protection of Your Personal Data

Every 2 seconds, there is a new victim of identity theft. We all take a lot of precautions to safeguard our privacy when it comes to phone numbers, banking and even about our social media information. Similarly, we need to take some steps for domain registration information as well.
WHOIS domain record contains sufficient data for any tenacious or skilled thief to intrude into your personal information to cause you problems. You are prone to identity theft if they go deeper into your personal information.
But, if you use domain privacy protection, all your private information is safeguarded by a proxy.

  1. Stop Unwanted Solicitations

When you list your personal contact information, you are indirectly inviting all sales people, spammers, telemarketers and con artists. There are endless services continually scraping WHOIS database to get contact information of the websites recently registered.
Soon after you register your domain within minutes, you will be flooded with calls and emails on content optimization, virtual assistances, freelance opportunities from overseas, social media marketing, SEO optimization and many others.

Just be wary of the email that you receive related to your domain, and it is always advisable to contact your present registrar in case of any doubt.

  1. Protection to Your Email Address

When you opt for private domain registration, your unique email address or an alias is stored in the WHOIS database in place of your own email address. Even this alias gets frequently updated. Thus, you are kept away from all the spam emails.

  1. Prevention from Domain Hijacking

One of the larger issues faced by all was domain hijacking. But, these days, most of the registrars have locked domain transfers by default and it is now tougher to accomplish this like before.
After your domain is locked, it is not possible for anyone to transfer your domain unless they get access to your domain email and registrar account.
Moreover, if you hide your personal information, it adds another layer of protection for domain hijacking.
With your domain privacy protection in place, emails regarding domain transfer will be routed to the dummy email rather than the original email address of the registrant. Thus, the transfer gets failed if it is not authorized.  Mostly, the dummy email ids that registrar provides do not forward the mail to the original email address.

  1. Protection of your website from unwarranted domain association

When you opt for domain privacy protection, all the valuable and private information on your site stays protected. This now cannot be used by other sites without your consent.  Thus, you are protected from getting any association from any shady websites that could harm the integrity of your site, for instance, the adult sites.

When using the Domain Privacy Service, Who Owns the Domain?

It may not seem easy to make up your mind for domain privacy protection. Surely, there are many benefits, but it also causes certain issues.
As WHOIS information is not yours, thus technically speaking, you are not the owner of the domain name anymore. Legally, the one who gets listed on WHOIS record is the owner of your domain.
Thus, if a proxy has taken that place, they are the owner and not you of your domain.
Although according to the terms and conditions, they seem like protecting you yet these kinds of cases are open and shut at the courts. Hence, they own your domain and not you!
Something that makes it even worst is that most of the privacy companies promise to safeguard your WHOIS information, but in reality, they sell your private information to anyone who is interested in it. Therefore, you don’t get protection from anything.

What are the advantages of Domain Privacy Protection?

When you go for Domain Privacy Protection, you get certain benefits surely. Apart from making your private information secure, there are many other benefits like:

  1. It is easier for you to control your junk and spam emails.
  2. Your competitors are unable to find your contact information.
  3. It is not possible for the firms to locate and resell your private data to strangers.
  4. You stay away from many scams and frauds.

What Are the Downsides of Private Domain Registration?

Domain Privacy Protection seems like a common sense choice for those who are setting their new site. After all, you should protect your private information and keep all the telemarketers and intruders away.
However, there are many downsides for considering the domain protection:

  1. The Additional Cost

When you opt for extra protection, you need to pay for the service. Prices vary considerably from one provider to another from few dollars to extra dollars per month.
Nobody regulates this price, but private registration services determine the cost. You are paying for domain privacy protection so that nobody reveals your personal information but are you getting the value that you are paying for this service?
This you need to decide whether it is worth the extra cost or not.

  1. Is it Really Private?

You pay to keep your private information shielded in the WHOIS record but does the provider really the information private?
There is a possibility that your registrar sells or distributes the information by some other means.
Although, ICANN policies are there in place. Still, we have seen many registrars violating these policies in the past. Thus, nobody is stopping the less-trustworthy companies from sharing the personal information of domain owners to anyone who is ready to pay a price for it.
For this, it is a must that you review your registrar’s private policy to make sure the information you share is not given out or shared without providing you information.

  1. Your Information Might Still Be Public

You can go in for Private domain registration at any time, but if your domain name was registered without you opting for privacy protection, then there is a possibility that your private information is already private.
Also, many tools are available that permits people to do historic searches and find out ownership details of domains listed previously. Certain tools also show sale records and even transfer of domains.

  1. Your Reputation Maybe in Question

These days’ customers don’t have much trust in the brands. Nielsen study proves that around 92% of the customers trust more reviews and peer data rather than brand advertising.
Few of your niche clients may even go as far as checking your WHOIS information for the verification of your business.
If your business website shows your contact information has private, most of your clients may think that you are hiding something.
After all, why a legit business would hide their contact information with their customers? You might be a scammer trying to steal the credit card information.
Transparency is the key to win the heart of your clients.

  1. Privacy Protection Isn’t Always Available

You might not be able to set up domain privacy protection as it totally depends on the type of domain you select. Although, it is available with most of the domain extensions .asia, .cn, .us, .au, .cc, .eu, .xxx, .name and .tv are exceptions to this.
If you go in for any of the above-mentioned domain extensions, you are required to list your actual contact information.

Major Players Offering the Best of Private Domain Registration

They are:

GoDaddy

GoDaddy is one of the most prominent companies offering you two plans to select from. So, you can select from their business and personal plans offered.

With great offers going on both, the right time to buy one for your site is now. In the Personal Plan, the charge is around $5 per year per domain and in the Business Plan, the charge is around $15 per year per domain.

HostGator

HostGator offers you the Privacy Protection feature for all the domains that are registered with it. The cost of this is: $12.95 per year per domain.

BlueHost

If you opt for Shared Web Hosting and wish to go for the Privacy domain protection, then it shall cost you $11.88 Domain Privacy per domain per year.

iPage

If you want to go for iPage’s Privacy domain protection, you need to tick the checkbox related to the Domain Privacy checkbox while you are registering with iPage.
Presently the price of iPage Domain Privacy is only $8.99 per year. This is just a small price that you pay to get your personal information protected from spammers, frauds and hackers.

DreamHost:

If you opt for hosting from DreamHost, you get protection from the public eye at no extra cost. Free Domain Privacy is Included with the hosting.

Bottom line

It is not mandatory or a requirement to invest your money in domain privacy protection. The cost is though negligible when you consider its advantages. If you wish to keep all the intruders away and protect your private information, then it is surely an investment worth making.

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