The Importance of Domain Privacy

The advancement of technology and the expansion of the internet has led to some rather extraordinary opportunities for businesses and individuals on the web; however, these opportunities have not come without some risks and annoyances. Spammers, direct marketers, hackers, identity thieves and more are now more aggressive than ever. This is why it is important for those who maintain a web presence to protect their personal and business data.

One thing that makes this difficult is the policies set forth by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers — also known as ICANN — which requires that the mailing address, email address and phone number of anyone who owns or administrates a domain name be made publicly available.

Introducing Domain Privacy

There are many questions surrounding the rationale of ICANN's regulations that cause businesses and individuals owning domains to expose information that can be compromised and used against them. One thing is certain, and that is the fact that these regulations force these businesses and individuals to take the necessary steps to protect their own information.

According to ICANN, they are exploring a number options that would introduce changes to the current policies, minimizing the risk of data being compromised. In the meantime, many domain registration companies are offering domain privacy services to help their customers feel more confident that their information will be safe.

The simple explanation for domain privacy services is that when a user registers a domain name with a registration company, the company will offer a service in which they will replace the owner's information in the "Who Is" field with information from a forwarding service for both mail and email. This is normally accomplished through the use of proxy servers.

The Level of Anonymity

The truth is that there are some domain registrars that will release a domain owner's private information with very little persuasion. Some only require a phone request, or at most, a cease and desist letter.

There are other registrars that take the privacy of their customers more seriously, going as far as hosting the information offshore so that there is no direct access to the customer's information.

There are some domain extensions that have privacy caveats set by default, such as .at, .ca, .de, and .us. Obtaining information from these type of domains is much more difficult than the more common domains.

What Domain Privacy Means for You

Because the current ICANN policy requires that a domain owner's information be made public, using a privacy service may be the only viable option to protect sensitive information that you don't want shared with the general public. As a general rule, a privacy service will display their information in place of your personal and private information. It is important to know that in some cases the privacy service may be listed as the owner of the domain, and this has created some legal issues in the past. It is something to be aware of. There are companies that allow you to retain complete ownership of the domain while using their services.

By using a privacy service, your private information remains private.

It is extremely important to understand why it is paramount for your personal information to be protected. Besides the fact that you can be harassed by spammers and direct marketers consistently, the more serious threat of identity theft is lurking in the shadows of this full disclosure policy. With ICANN's policy placing your personal information on a platform in which it can be easily accessed, you are extremely vulnerable to your data being compromised. By using a privacy service, you can drastically reduce the risk.

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