Whenever you buy or sell a website address, you will encounter a domain agency. As the web hosting equivalent of the DVLA, domain agencies record every transaction involving changes of website ownership. They maintain a live log of who owns each domain name, held in a publicly visible directory called WHOIS.
Unlike the DVLA, this administrative burden isn’t shouldered by a single organisation. Every web address suffix (also known as a top-level domain, or TLD) has its own agency responsible for logging ownership details in a WHOIS. For example, Nominet is the body charged with managing domain names ending in .uk, whereas Neustar is in charge of .biz addresses. Domain name validation is obligatory, and a site can’t be launched until its ownership has been confirmed.
Why do registrars record domain transactions?
It’s important to record transactions for several reasons, such as resolving ownership disputes or taking action against anyone hosting illegal material. Each TLD-specific domain agency decides what information will be requested, though it’s typically limited to names and addresses plus telephone and email contact details. Thanks to the growing awareness about online privacy issues, domain agencies are slowly reducing the data they request and publish.
Even so, the WHOIS obligations remain problematic for anyone who values their anonymity, or someone who’s reluctant to have their name and address listed in a universally accessible database. This will particularly be the case if you’ve ever had the misfortune to be harassed in any way. However, you don’t need to be a victim of stalking to worry about having your name and address published on a fully searchable web portal. It’s a worry for everyone since criminals could potentially copy online information for the purposes of fraud or identity theft.
Why choose domain privacy?
There are some very specific reasons for having a preference for domain privacy. Entrepreneurs preparing to launch a new product or service don’t want to advertise their plans to corporate rivals since domain names can be highly illuminating. Also, scraper sites (which trawl the internet harvesting contact details) might scoop up your domain registry listing and add it to junk mail lists. This can often result in large volumes of unsolicited spam, while association with these sites is damaging for legitimate websites. Your site could be downgraded in future search engine results, even if you didn’t know your data has been scraped and reposted.
Keeping private information private
Fortunately, every problem has a solution, and all the issues above can be addressed through a process known as domain privacy. Did we mention that domain privacy is free from UK2.NET for a limited time? Take a look at our offers page to learn more. In essence, this cloaks the data provided to domain registries from public view. Your legal obligations are still discharged, but nobody can see your details in the WHOIS database of your chosen TLD. Private individuals are able to request domain privacy free of charge, providing their websites aren’t used for trading. However, companies and organisations are legally required to be publicly visible on WHOIS.
Contact UK2 to enquire further about domain privacy when registering a new website, or for more information about cloaking existing WHOIS entries.