A person that has bought a domain name for a website has instantly made its own personal data available on the WHOIS service. Website registration demands that you provide your contact details, brief or more elaborate, depending on the registrar. With that personal data being displayed online and communicated by a number of online services, the website domain owners are in need for personal data privacy.
What can you do to stay anonymous?
In certain cases, the domain registrant of a domain name does not wants to have his name and other data revealed, so that interested parties will not know if a person or a company is the owner of a certain website.
The basic step is to include WHOIS privacy service with your domain registration, at your domain registrar. In most cases, while registering the said domain you can choose “privacy” and it is added as a free or paid additional service.
How does WHOIS privacy work?
When the registrar company offers a WHOIS privacy service, it acts as a medium between the domain owner and parties that want to contact him. Anyone that will search for WHOIS data for a certain domain name or a website will find the registrar company information displayed as the owner with contact details, instead of the real owner data. This way anonymity is provided, as only the registrar company knows the owner of that specific domain name. As a disclaimer note, any registrar that receives a court order will be obliged to disclose website owner personal data to the government authorities. WHOIS privacy service will not provide absolute anonymity and domain names connected to fraud, trade of illegal good or other criminal actions can lead to owner disclosure.
What are the benefits of registering a domain name anonymously?
For the most part, the obvious benefit is concealing your contact information behind a registrar so that ensures you are not spammed by different persons or companies that are interested in acquiring a domain name you own. On the other hand, you may want to keep that information confidential to keep competing companies oblivious of your identity, and gain the upper hand.
Are there any negative sides?
When a domain name is registered, it is done si with ICANN. However, ICANN determines the owner of a domain name by checking the WHOIS database. The person or company listed in that database is viewed as the owner by ICANN. This literally means that your registrar is the legal owner of the domain name and they are in a way “renting” it to you. If you are conducting business with a reputable domain registrar then this should not present an issue. The registrar will not “steal” your domain name, and you will not have a legal problem with ICANN.
The only possible situation when anonymous domain registration can prove negative is when you are aiming to sell a certain domain name and you do want to be contacted.
Entering false information during domain name registration as a means of anonymous registration?
All domain registrars will ask for your personal information during domain name registration process. Entering false information during this process can lead to a number of legal or technical problems. As mentioned before, the person that is listed in the WHOIS data is the legal owner of the website.
Knowing that if you enter fake information, you consciously break ethical and legal rules, while ICANN has the power to take a domain from you and give it to somebody else. So no, you should not resort to entering false data unless you are ready to lose the domain name ownership at any moment. It is clearly very important that you include valid information in your registration information.
Anonymous and offshore hosting
While WHOIS protection service will mask your private information and replace it with those of your registrar company, to be sure your personal information are hidden from prying eyes you can additional get anonymous hosting service.
Main features of a anonymous host is that they only require an email address from you to be able to provide hosting services. Service payment is done through Bitcoin or other cryptocurrency (so it is not traceable). Anonymous host will have servers in a country with high level of freedom of speech (for example Sweden), and sometimes operate from “offshore” hosting services (located outside of the US – often in EU, Panama, Iceland, Russia, or Asia). Additionally they own their own servers, infrastructure and IP’s.
The goal of anonymous host is to provide privacy to famous bloggers, celebrities and such who want to make communication to common people without disclosing their identity. For example, artists often use aliases when performing, while they keep their identity private.
Important to note is that any renown website hosting provider will never endorse illegal activities through these means.
So is anonymous registration worth it?
We can conclude that anonymous registration can provide strong benefits, and shield you from a vulnerable position. While some registrars offer this as a free or conditional service, with others it is a paid service though with many that sum of money is very affordable considering the benefits it brings.