Name Registration and Privacy
Domain Name Registration and Privacy
The internet is a wonderful thing, except for a few
small details. When you register your first domain name, you get
your introduction to one of them. There's a lot of information they
want. Your name, your email address, your physical address, your
phone number. For each of 4 separate categories, and the Registrant,
Admin and Technical categories are publicly available (for almost
all TLDs - Top Level Domains, with the possible exception of .ws
- Western Samoa).
Email addresses, which must be valid, phone numbers and physical
addresses which also must be valid. I personally think it's both
absurd and dangerous to make this information so easily available.
Once again the right to privacy of law-abiding individuals is being
abridged supposedly to help catch lawbreakers. Since this information
would be provided under a court order, making it publicly available
just invites abuse.
Spammers, scammers, stalkers and the idle whacko can easily get
this information. And it's a nice start on identity theft, too.
However, for most people, the most likely result is an increase
in the amount of spam you get. But, much worse can and has happened.
So what solutions are there? Basically there two ways to protect
your privacy if you are a private individual without access to a
legal entity such as a company to own the domain name (note that
if it is a company, you must provide accurate information. This
only moves the problem to a slightly less personal level).
First you could lie. No, that's not one of the ways. Unwise and
illegal too, and you are a law-abiding type, right? So, first, a
proxy registration is one alternative.
Essentially you make a binding legal agreement with a company which
will register the domain name as if they owned it and then provide
their own information to meet the requirements. For each domain,
they will set-up a special email which they will monitor and forward
to you, usually after spam filtering, if you want them to.
They, of course, retain your data and will also monitor physical
mail. You will be notified of first class mail which appears to
or could be legal documents or if registered or couriered mail arrives.
They will, for a fee, ship such to you, if you agree and pay. Generally
such items would be sent by courier. Phone callers will be directed
to use the email or physical address shown in the WhoIs record
Of course, under subpoena or other specified conditions they will
provide your details. You will have full rights as owner - as long
as you behave and don't violate the agreement.
The other alternative, usually called "private registration",
is a little different. Here your name would still appear as registrant.
You would provide the names of the admin and technical contacts.
But the address, email and phone number would be provided and monitored
by the organization handling the private registration in essentially
the same manner as a proxy registration. Thus with this alternative
you remain in full legal control of your domain name since it is
registered in your name rather than the name of a proxy.
On the face of it this second alternative sounds better, but your
name is hanging out there on view and you may have valid reasons
for not wanting that (perhaps the company you work for takes a dim
view of moonlighting, or you have had a stalking problem or are
doing something perfectly legitimate but don't want your name linked
to it).In that case, a proxy registration is the only real alternative.
In case you're thinking you can hide out and do whatever sort of
bad stuff behind a proxy or private registration, don't even dream
about it. These outfits take it very personally if you misbehave
and the legal agreements spell it out.
If you decide to pursue a proxy or private registration, make very
sure that you are working with a legitimate company with a track
record. A domain name can be a very valuable possession. Both your
registrar and, if it's a separate organization, the entity that
does the proxy or private registration must be quality, legitimate
outfits. Registrars offering extremely low prices which are way
out of line with the going rates - unless it's a special - just
might be after your credit card and identity. Also, this time, actually
read the agreement and TOS so you do know what you're doing and
what could happen under what circumstances.
Wondering why I'm writing about this? Well, it's because I'm getting
more and more spam and I started doing some research on possible
solutions. And I figured, I wan't the only one looking to do something
about the problem. And then, I discovered that some registrars will
provide free proxy or private registration with your domain name
purchase. So think about it and do some checking before you buy
a domain name. Your privacy is a precious possession.
About the Author
Richard teaches, trains
and consults, on and off-line. And he writes a lot. Visit http://www.AboutWebHosting.info
for articles, information, resources and links related to web hosting
and domain registration and http://www.Building-eCommerce-Websites
for more on eCommerce in particular.