Domain privacy replaces your WHOIS info with the info of a forwarding service done by a proxy server. In result, your personal info, such as physical address, emails, telephone number, etc is hide from the public. Domain privacy is a service offered by a number of domain name registrars. A user buys privacy from the company, who in turn replaces the user’s info in the WHOIS with the info of a forwarding service (for email and sometimes postal mail, done by a proxy server).
Domain privacy is important because your domain record (ie. the WhoIs data) may also be used in ways that aren’t legitimate or desirable. Since anyone can look up a WhoIs record, spammers, hackers, identity thieves and stalkers may access your personal information!
Unethical companies check domain expiration dates then send official looking “renewal” notices in an attempt to get the domain owners to transfer domains to their company, or send invoices that are service solicitations for search engine submissions and other questionable services.
Both email and snail mail spammers use the WhoIs databases to contact domain owners with solicitations as well.
Domain Privacy by default
Note that some domain extensions have privacy caveats:
- .al: No information about the owner is disclosed.
- .at, .co.at, .or.at: Since May 21, 2010, contact data (defined as phone number, fax number, e-mail address) is hidden by the registrar and must be explicitly made public.
- .ca: Since June 10, 2008, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority no longer posts registration details of individuals associated with .ca domains.
- .de: Owner and technical contact must show their postal addresses. Phone number and e-mail address do not have to be made public
- .eu: If the registrant is a natural person, only the e-mail address is shown in the public whois records unless specified otherwise.
- .gr: No information about the owner is disclosed.
- .is: May hide address and phone number.
- .nl: Since January 12, 2010, registrant postal addresses are no longer publicly available.
- .ovh: Contact data is hidden by the registrar and must be explicitly made public.
- .us: In March 2005, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) said that owners of .us domains will not have the option of keeping their information private, and that it must be made public.
- .uk: Nominet, the guardian of UK domain namespace, provide inclusive domain privacy tools on their extensions (.co.uk, .me.uk etc.), providing that the registrant is not trading from the domain name.