For owners of web-site domain names, domain privacy is an option that is available to conceal the ownership of a domain name.
The international organization for domain names (ICANN.org) requires that the domain owner information is filled out and accurate, since this information is used to verify ownership of a domain name in disputes and renewals. However, this information is publicly visible and can be downloaded in bulk, leading to unsolicited advertising sent to the domain owner.
When domain names are registered, they default to displaying the owner’s name and contact details. This information may include address, e-mail, phone and fax numbers. This information is established when a domain name is first registered and is usually copied from the information used to establish the account. There are a variety of reasons the domain owner may choose to conceal or limit the information displayed.
While it may be tempting to leave the ownership information blank to prevent spam or conceal the identify of the owner, this can result in problems with establishing the true owner. Domain ownership information is also necessary for domain renewal and when transferring a name between registrar providers.
Ideally, the domain ownership information should match the identify of a person or business that can be verified with government issued documents, such as a passport or driver license. In a situation where ownership must be proven, the registrar will require a copy of a government issued document to establish the correct owner of a domain name.
In the worst case scenario, a blank domain owner could be challenged and seized by another person, leading to loss of the domain name.
To examine the public record of a domain name, the WHOIS command is a widely available service that every registrar provides to display the information on a domain name and ownership. There is also a free Windows WHOIS program that can be downloaded and used to check domain names.
Recommendations for domain ownership:
* domain ownership should reflect the actual domain name owners name, not the registrar or hosting providers name.
* use a valid e-mail account that has good quality spam defense.
* do not include the fax number; enter 999-999-9999 instead to avoid spam faxing.
* avoid buying domain protection, it is a frivolous charge and it can create obstacles to domain transfer.
* domain privacy services are useful when a domain owner identify must be concealed for privacy or security reasons.