It’s estimated that there are 1.3 billion websites currently live, and every one of them has a unique address known as a domain name. Once a domain name has been purchased, it can host anything from a modest homepage to a directory of subpages.
In the late 1990s, an independent body called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, was set up to regulate the sale and transfer of these unique domain names. Over the last twenty years, ICANN has appointed dedicated registries to oversee every domain name finishing with a particular suffix – also known as a top-level domain. As part of their terms of service, these domain registries have to maintain a complete list of who owns every active domain name. A website can’t be launched until accurate information about its owner is provided to the domain registry. For instance, here at Midphase, we had to register our details with VeriSign – the body responsible for .com domains.
Where is domain information stored?
Midphase’s contact details are now stored in a global, freely searchable database known as WHOIS. It enables anyone to check who purchased and registered a particular domain, typically listing their name, address, phone number and email address. However, this poses a significant problem for people who value their privacy. Publicly visible information may be harvested and used by unscrupulous marketing companies, perhaps to compile databases of email addresses and phone numbers for spam or sales calls. Information in the public domain could even be exploited by criminals, for purposes ranging from harassment to identity fraud.
How to keep domain registration information private
There are many reasons why a person might not want to be listed on WHOIS, yet it’s a legal requirement for their details to be filed. Domain privacy is the workaround devised to ensure both these needs can be met simultaneously. In essence, it permits a private individual to have their data redacted on request. The organization they purchased their domain name from knows their contact information should any conflicts or problems arise, but nobody else gets to view the client’s email address or phone number.
It should be noted that companies are not eligible for domain privacy, simply because there’s little justification for a business hiding ownership of a particular domain. Exclusions also apply to websites involved in any form of trade. However, searching for a particular domain name in WHOIS often turns up entries with proxy contact details for a third-party body. This proxy will pass on inquiries received on the customer’s behalf, effectively acting as a screen between them and the general public.
Information previously published online may remain visible even after it’s been removed, so retrospectively hiding ownership of an existing website address is an imperfect solution. It’s far easier to request domain privacy when a new site is being purchased. Midphase offers a WHOIS domain privacy service when clients are registering a new website, and this can be added to shopping carts with a single click. Add this essential feature to your account free for a limited time. Don’t miss this great opportunity to keep your information out of the hands of others. We also support privacy for existing accounts, which can be actioned via the control panel interface used to manage purchased domains.
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