Every time you are registering a domain, you will face a question whether you should buy domain privacy or not. In this article, we will look at what domain privacy is and if you really need it.
What Is Domain Privacy?
When you register a domain name, some of your personal information (name, phone number, e-mail address, etc) is made public through the Whois database. The Whois database allows finding information about everyone who registered a domain. It was created by ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) as a security measure to prevent and combat criminal activity. If you buy domain privacy from your domain registrar, the registrar will replace your personal information in the Whois database with some generic information. This way your information is kept safe and cannot be looked up by everyone on the internet. Of course, if you have domain privacy it does not mean that your personal information is completely hidden. Authorities with a legitimate interest can still gain access to your personal information to prevent criminal activity.
Do I Need Domain Privacy?
People are buying domain privacy for obvious reasons. Nobody likes the idea that his/her personal information would be made public. Most of the domain registrars will encourage you to buy domain privacy telling you that if your phone and email address is public, then you risk receiving unsolicited e-mails and calls.
I must say that it’s quite sad domain registrars even charge for domain privacy given the fact that privacy and data protection are fundamental rights. I understand that it’s their business and that they want to make money as much money as any company, but it’s just not ethical.
Now let me tell you why I have never bought domain privacy on any of the domains I own.
GDPR And Domain Privacy
If you reside in the European Union, you are most likely already familiar with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which came into force in May of 2018. GDPR regulates the processing of personal information and brings more transparency to the collection of personal information. As a result of GDPR, ICANN has to remove public access to your personal information. Domain registrars still collect your personal information when you register a domain, but your information is no longer visible to the public.
However, GDPR protects only personal information of citizens of the European Union and the European Economic Area. So if you are from the USA, you don’t have any rights under GDPR. Nevertheless, even companies outside of the European Union have to comply with GDPR if they reside in the European Union or if they have clients in the European Union. All big domain registrars ( Bluehost, GoDaddy , etc.) have customers from the European Union and therefore have to comply with GDPR.
If you are from a European Union like me, don’t even think about buying domain privacy. Domain registrars will still encourage you to buy domain privacy, but your personal information won’t be visible to the public even if you don’t purchase it. Your name, e-mail address and phone will be hidden. What will be visible is your country and state/province and that’s not a big deal.
If you are from outside of the EU, your personal information will be unfortunately visible to the public if you don’t buy domain privacy. One would expect that since domain registrars have to comply with GDPR anyway that they would not differentiate between the citizens of the European Union and the others, but they do. It’s really sad, business is business.
However, I must say that even before GDPR came into effect I never bought domain protection. Domain protection is not something you can buy only when you register a new domain, but you can buy it anytime later. If you start receiving unsolicited e-mails and calls, you can block them and buy the domain protection. It has never happened to me though, so I never felt the need to purchase the domain protection.