Domain privacy arguably doesn’t receive the attention it deserves. Many consumers do not know about the right to request their details be hidden from the WHOIS database used to monitor site ownership around the world. Although businesses aren’t eligible for it, private individuals should always be informed of their rights when registering a new website.
If people realized that their contact details could be found through a quick WHOIS search, there may be more objections to having addresses, phone numbers and email accounts published online. That’s especially true considering WHOIS is akin to the Yellow Pages – a universally accessible and publicly searchable database of domain name registration records. A basic domain lookup reveals account information for whoever registered a particular domain.
There are various reasons why domain privacy might be desirable:
#1. Preventing mass-scale data harvesting.
Web scrapers roam the internet, pulling contact information into low-quality databases that are resold or used by blackhat marketing agencies. This may lead to an uptick in spam volumes or unsolicited telephone inquiries. Such harvesting is expressly forbidden, but as we all know, it still happens.
#2. Protecting personal safety and confidentiality.
Former victims of stalking or harassment will need no encouragement to hide their details from public view, and nor will anyone who’s fallen victim to identity fraud. The information hosted on WHOIS could conceivably help criminals to perpetrate ID theft.
#3. Preserving anonymity of new ventures.
Domain privacy doesn’t cover sites with financial or sales motivation, but registering a new business domain as a private citizen stops rivals from knowing what’s being planned. That maintains a competitive advantage, especially if the domain name offers hints about its future role.
Yet there are also disadvantages to cloaking personal information online:
#1. An element of suspicion.
Being able to identify a legitimate enterprise through WHOIS can reassure potential clients or audiences. Conversely, a domain name with a proxy entry might deter prospective partners or customers from getting in touch.
#2. Anonymity varies by domain registry.
The most common domains are managed by reputable registries who respect the right to privacy. However, registries in charge of some niche TLDs have been known to violate ICANN privacy policies.
#3. Not a fool-proof solution.
The internet is regularly archived, so cloaking an existing domain will never be 100% effective. Though WHOIS searches will display the appointed proxy details, interested parties could still find a firm’s domain data online if they really wanted to.
Nonetheless, many people reckon the benefits of cloaking their WHOIS listings outweigh any drawbacks. Best of all, privacy can be acquired cheaply. WestHost currently provides it free for twelve months when registering a new .com domain. All you need to do is add WHOIS Domain Privacy to your shopping cart while acquiring a new domain. Existing domains can also be cloaked for just $10 per year, by accessing the control panel and selecting this option. It doesn’t even affect the ability to sell or transfer the domain at a later date…