What is private domain registration and why is it important?
You’ve just registered your own domain and within minutes, you’re already getting spam. This scenario is typical for many domain owners who immediately wonder if the registrar sold their data to a third party and what the company who registered it may have to do with the sudden influx of spam.
The explanation is actually much simpler. When registering many domains, in particular generic top level domains (gTLD) like .com or .online, the owner of the domain as well as the company who registered it (the Registrar) are required to publish the registration data in a technical directory called Whois. This also includes the e-mail address of the domain owner.
The requirement to publish registration data has been the subject of discussion for years in the online community. In particular, many are concerned that illegitimate data collectors use the Whois database to easily collect the personal details of others.
In the early years of the Internet, the publication requirement was intended to create transparency about domain ownership. The aim was to have a point of contact for all kinds of questions, even if only technical in nature, as well as to be useful for trademark or copyright protection and assisting in prosecutions. Nowadays, the publication of registration data is often taken advantage of by dubious business interests and misused. Simply ending the publication requirement still is not an option because the Whois service and the data stored there are often part of administrative processes such as domain transfers.
Protecting your data with Private Registration
In order to protect domain owners from their personal data being misused by third parties, many registrars offer an additional service known as private registration. This simply entails using the registrar’s contact information in the Whois database instead of the individual’s though of course the domain owner retains all rights and ownership of the domain itself.
1&1 offers this service free of charge with every domain registration. You choose private registration when you purchase the domain or any time later via the control panel.
However, these privacy measures are luckily not necessary for all top level domains. Most country specific domain endings such as .de .fr or .es for example, are not bound by the same contractual obligations. They therefore publish significantly less data that at most, contains just a mailing address. In these cases, domain owners are safe from unwanted spam and phone calls.
Most country specific domain endings only have to provide very basic information and therefore don’t require private domain registration.
You can check what information is currently published for your own domain with the 1&1 Whois service as well as with the domain ending‘s respective Whois service.