What is domain privacy protection?

When you register a domain name, your personal details — name, address, phone number, email address, and more — are stored in a public database called Whois. A global organization called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, known as ICANN, maintains this Whois database. While the database has many uses for the public, having your information publicly available also presents some problems. However, there is a solution: Domain privacy protection. Let’s take a look at what domain privacy protection is, how it works, and how you can utilize it on your website.

What is domain privacy protection?

Most domain registrars offer “privacy protection” for your domain name, which means they will shield your personal information from being displayed to the public. This is important for several reasons:

  1. You probably don’t want everyone in the world to have your information. Back in the day, phone books made it easy for you to find contact information for other people who lived in your town. But with growing issues of identity theft and scams, would you want such a phone book to be distributed worldwide? That’s essentially what the WhoIs database does. Anyone can access it and look up information for your website.
  2. You make yourself vulnerable to spam calls and emails if you publish your information publicly. You probably get enough robocalls and spam emails without having another avenue for spammers to access your information.
  3. Your information could be sold to even more companies. Some companies center their entire business model on harvesting information from the WhoIs database. These companies scrape names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses from it and sell the information to marketing companies and spammers. While it’s technically illegal for companies to send you spam emails without your consent, it certainly happens anyway — and the same protections don’t exist for spam calls, especially if the calls come from another human.

It shouldn’t take much convincing to see how the entire world having your personal contact information is a really bad idea.

How does domain privacy protection work?

When you ask your domain registrar to enable privacy protection, they enter their information in the registry instead of yours. ICANN requires valid information to register a domain — so don’t think you can get away with registering for a domain name under the name John Doe, who lives at 123 Anywhere Street — but your registrar’s valid information qualifies.

If you want to utilize it on your site, you’ll want to make sure it’s included in your domain registration. Some registrars automatically include this service for free, but domain privacy protection is an add-on service for most domain registrars, who might charge anywhere from a dollar or two per year to $20 for the service.