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Building a website requires you to get a builder. Which needs you to already have domain. For which you need to provide some personal details.
All that information you put into the registrar doesn’t just go into their secure database of information.
No, instead, a lot of that information is sent to ICANN, the international body that regulates domains.
You see, it’s required that every single domain has some information attached to it:
First name, last name, address, email, and in some cases, even country and phone number. All this information is collected in something called the WHOIS registry.
So what’s the problem? The WHOIS registry can only be accessed by domain registrars, right? Nope.
Sadly the WHOIS registry is completely open. All that private information you have is accessible to the public at large. Now, if you’re a business and have a business address, and all the legal paperwork surrounding it, that might not be such an issue. Your privacy comes from the fact that the business is the entity the domain registrar deals with.
Unfortunately, if you’re just an individual making a website, you don’t really get that sort of protection. That’s where domain privacy comes in.
Usually what domain privacy does is hide your relevant information by registering the domain in the name of the registrar instead. As the process may suggest, this is something that is offered by the domain registrar, and sadly is usually an added feature that costs money.
So if you’re one of those people that tends to skip this bit of the registration or account process, you may want to look closer at the options that they provide you.
What is Domain Privacy UK Guide 🇬🇧
Building a website is often both fun and frustrating.
On the one hand, you get to build your own little piece of the internet. Complete with your own branding, art, content, and possibly even products or services. On the other hand, going through all the red tape and paperwork of setting up a website can be a big pain. Even with top competitive website builders helping you along the way.
One important part of this process is purchasing a domain. Which essentially functions as your digital address. This is usually handled by something called a domain registrar. They take the IP address of where your site is hosted and turn it into some readable text a human being can handle.
Why is Domain Privacy Important?
Let's Find Out Together! 🕵️♂️
Domain privacy is important beyond just protecting your personal information, as there are quite a few scenarios that could cause you issues.
Protection Against Getting Spammed
Since your email and most likely phone number are both out there for people to access. There’s a massive probability that those will be used to send you spam email and phone calls.
This can be exceedingly annoying because there are programs out there dedicated to trawling the internet for publicly accessible information like this.
Protection Against Selling Your Data
Following on from the point above, these data scraping programs, or ‘bots’, can absolutely gather your information into a database. And then sell it to some unscrupulous third party. Or even worse: selling it to advertisers.
Protection Against Domain Hijacking
With some basic personal information and social engineering, it’s actually relatively easy to hijack or break into most accounts, whether it’s banking or domain registration. By shielding your personal information, potential hijackers will have one less bit of information to use to their advantage.
Protecting Against Competitors
A lot of competitors can use your website and personal information against you, such as where you operate. This might not be so much of an issue if you do you’re using top eCommerce platforms, but if you’re operating out of a physical store with physical goods, a competitor can potentially cause you a lot of hassle.
As you can see, there are tons of good reasons to adopt some form of domain privacy. Rather than leaving your information out in the open.
Disadvantages of Domain Privacy
There Are Some Minuses ❌
That being said, there certainly are a few downsides to domain privacy.
First of all, it costs extra, and if you’re on a tight budget it might be hard to fork over that extra cash.
This can often be another £10-£30 a year on top of what you’d normally pay for the domain itself.
You might get lucky and find a domain registrar who offers the service for ‘free’, but that will still cost more overall than just getting the domain without the privacy.
Secondly, getting domain privacy is not the end of the story and it might give you a false sense of security. This is a similar issue to using other privacy tools, such as VPNs. A lot of people might just grab an awesome VPN, or a secure email, and then just leave it be because they think that’s all they really need to keep themselves safe.
In a similar vein, domain privacy does not necessarily guarantee privacy or safety. Especially if you buy from a disreputable registrar who might sell your information. Or, generally speaking, if you deal with shady websites and provide them with your personal information. In that case you might want to check out our online privacy guide.
Finally, and this is the biggest one that was alluded to earlier: you don’t technically own your domain.
The way that it works is that the person who is listed on the WHOIS registrar is considered the domain owner. Since domain privacy works by the registrar putting their information in there instead of yours, then technically the registrar is considered the owner of the domain.
Now, for the most part, that isn’t really an issue because the big domain registrars are not going to risk their business by stealing a domain from a client.
That can cause a cascade effect where thousands or millions of clients leave because of that one action. Instead, the risk for this issue comes, again, if you deal with a shady or untrustworthy domain registrar.
Can I Get Around Domain Privacy?
Cutting Corners Won't Do You Good ⚠️
Well, off the bat you need to know that you can’t fake contact information when you purchase a domain. It is against ICANN ToS to provide fake information. And they are more than happy to absolutely shut down a domain they think has done so.
You absolutely don’t want to put yourself at that kind of risk. Especially since it can happen at any time with very little warning.
Get a P.O. Box
Another option is setting up a P.O. Box and registering the details to that address. It still won’t hide your real name and email, but at least it protects the address of your physical home, which is probably the most important bit honestly.
Of course, a P.O. Box may cost you £60 or more even for a simple one, so if you’re in that situation where you don’t have a big enough budget, then that might be a bit problematic. Especially so if you compare it to just purchasing domain privacy, which can sometimes be bought as cheap as £5 or £10 a year.
End of the Guide 🎬
While domain privacy may have some minimal associated risks and problems, on the whole, it’s an important technique to protect yourself from a variety of threats.
If you don’t have domain privacy enabled right now, well then it might be a good idea to go to your domain registrar and add the domain privacy option. It might cost more but it’s absolutely worth keeping your personal information private and secure.