Private Domain Registration Info

Big Monty
Big Monty used Ask the Experts™
I received the following email today regarding one of my registered websites:

As part of the rules of domain ownership, ICANN (the international governing organization of domain domains) requires that your contact information be publicly accessible. Therefore, your name, address, email address and phone number are made available to anyone who performs a whois search for the domain name.

We understand that making this information publicly available is not the best solution for many customers, but it is a requirement for domain ownership. In addition, using false contact information violates domain registration agreements and could lead to loss of domain ownership.  But there is now an alternative:

Private Whois Service is now available to protect your privacy!

In order to help protect our customer's privacy we offer a Private Whois service which will remove your private information from the whois database. This service will display proxy information for the name, address, phone number and use an alias email address. Any emails sent to the proxy email will be forwarded to your actual domain contact email address.

The Private Whois service is $5 per year and can be activated by visiting your Control Panel Domain manager at:

I'm a bit confused on how they, or anyone else for that matter, can offer this service, as I thought, and is stated in the first paragraph, that rge info had to be made public.

I don't doubt the legality of this, as it's a pretty reputable hosting company, which also handles domain registration. I'm just curious on why this is legal.
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Network and Security Consultant
The way I understand it this is a bit of a legal gray area for domain registrations, essentially your domain is registered in the name of the forwarding service, and there have been some cases where one of these forwarding companies has gone bankrupt and the actual owner of the domain has had a difficult time regaining control of that domain.

I would assume the reason that it's legal is that as far as ICANN is concerned officially the forwarding company is the owner of the domain, though in practical reality you are. Whois info is populated in these cases it just displays the information of the forwarding company. I would also suspect that since a court order could undoubtedly force the forwarding company to give up the actual registrants information they probably are choosing not to make a major issue of this.
Dave BaldwinFixer of Problems
Most Valuable Expert 2014
I think Tyler is correct.  There is usually a note saying that you can ask the Domain hiding service for the contact info of the 'actual' owner.
Dr. KlahnPrincipal Software Engineer
Most registrars now offer this, sometimes free, and it is a valuable service imo.  It eliminates all the "Hey %20DOMAIN$OWNER we have wonderful bargain for you" spam.

The previous comments pretty well summarize the situation.  The legal issues are definitely complicated.  As Tyler said (at least, the last time I read the agreement from my registrar) they were actually registering domains under their name through their subsidiary Panama corporation, but otherwise I had full control of it.

But it certainly won't shield from subpoenas or the government.
Big MontyWeb Ninja at large


Thanks for the info. I was mostly curious on how it was legal, and based off of the comments above, it's starting to make sense. I'm going to leave this open for a day or two longer and see if anyone else throws in their two cents.

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