What is domain privacy?
Domain Privacy is a service offered by domain name registrars. When you purchase the privacy (along with the domain for a few extra bucks) the WHOIS (your information) is replaced with the info of a forwarding service.
How safe is my information if I choose to make it private?
Personal information is typically collected by these registrars to provide the service. Some registrars take little persuasion to release so-called ‘private’ information to the world, requiring only a phone request or cease and desist letter. Others, however, treat privacy more seriously, and host domain names offshore, even using e-gold or money orders in transactions so that the registrar has no knowledge of the domain name owner’s personal information in the first place (which would otherwise be transmitted along with credit card transactions). It is debatable whether or not this practice is at odds with the domain registration requirement of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
Why do I care?
If you have a domain name the information collected to purchase it will include an email address, physical address, your name, and phone number. If your information is not private it enables spammers, direct marketers, identity thieves, or other attackers to loot the directory for personal information. A good example of such a scam is junk mail you get telling you to renew your domain name. Usually, this mail is not from the actual registrar of your domain name. They are companies trying to trick you into selling your domain name. You can read more about Domain Registry of America here. I have a particular distaste for them and their tactics.
Things to consider
- Is there anything on your public WHOIS that isn’t also on your website? If you are running a business and your contact information is already out there – maybe private registration is a waste of money.
- Are you getting a ton of spam? Do you give out your email address freely on the internet (Facebook, signups, website)? Or do you keep it under lock and key? If the only place online with your emailis the WHOIS and you are tired of the spam – you might benefit from a private registration.
- Do you have a stalker and your home address is public? Maybe you want to reconsider leaving it public.
- Do you have good spam protection on your email?
The way I look at it
For me, my information is pretty public, and I’m okay with that. I don’t live alone and I have two good-sized dogs that are going to hear you before you can get up the drive way. They will let me, you, and all the neighbors know you exist and how much they disapprove.
Facebook has probably already sold my name 100 times. Facebook, Amazon, and Google have all slept together and they all shared my personal information during their pillow talk. If you are going to have an online presence, it’s going to be hard to keep your information private. If I had to do it over again, I might do something different. But, I figure it’s “out there” now, taking my name back today would be similar to swimming in the ocean during a hurricane while trying to keep my hair dry.
Mostly, I care about the spam. So I don’t publicly post my email, and website forms hide my email address. I keep my privacy fairly locked down on Facebook.
You may find that purchasing domain privacy is worth it for you. Just give it some thought and determine what you expect to get out of it to decide if it is right for you.