“It’s all in the name”, or so the saying goes and this is never more true than where domain names are concerned.
If you’ve read our “Hosting Explained” article then you’ll already know that your domain name is your address on the Internet, but one of the most common questions we are asked is “Can I remove my name and address from the WHOIS register?”, the answer is usually – “It depends….”
What is WHOIS?
Technically it’s an Internet protocol for query and responses to databases that contain domain registration data, more practically most people know it as the database where you can lookup:
- If a domain is available, and
- If it isn’t then you can look up who owns it.
I’m not going to go into the details of why people may or may not want to appear in this database as that varies from case to case.
Can my details be hidden in WHOIS?
This varies quite a lot depending on the domain extension and the type of registrant you are (like I said there is no clear cut yes or no), but I’m going to cover the two most common extensions we deal with here.
The answer is pretty much a default yes whatever type of registrant you are, our international domain registrar allows a bolt on service that replaces your details with essentially made up details whilst retaining your information at the registry, they charge a fee for this service but we can provide it for you if you need it.
This is where things get a little more complicated 🙂
We’re a UK Nominet Domain Registrar, and as such when you purchase a domain name you enter a three way contract between yourself, ourselves and Nominet and one of the key parts of that Nominet agreement is:
4. You have various responsibilities set out generally in this contract. You must also:
4.1 give and keep us notified of your correct name, postal address and any phone, fax or e-mail information and those of your contacts (if you appoint any, see condition 5.2). This duty includes responding quickly and correctly to any request from us to confirm or correct the information on the register;
So, whatever happens your details must be correct with Nominet… However, they do allow a little room for movement
Nominet recognise that individual users may not want their address published in the WHOIS database, so for UK Individual consumer registrations they allow a WHOIS opt-out free of charge (you can set this for your domain in our client portal). Doing this will mean that the WHOIS shows only your name and when the domain was registered.
- Everyone else
Nominet insist that these users have their address details published (but not the telephone and fax number).
Note: Don’t think you can fool the system and register your business domain name as an individual just to hide the address, periodically Nominet do run checks and if you need to transfer it back to your business you will be charged for this!
As a business BUT sole proprietor I run a “drop-ship” mail order business from home. I do NOT have stock at home and I do NOT accept callers under any circumstances. I feel strongly that my home address should not be published. In the past I’ve had people turn up at my door at stupid ‘o clock asking to buy stuff that I don’t even keep at home. I’ve also received spam email because my email address is exposed. It’s only a matter of time before a tech-savvy burglar or irate customer targets my home. I feel very vulnerable.
We can completely understand how you feel!
Unfortunately we don’t make the rules for Nominet but we do have make sure our clients stick to them.
It may be worth sending your feelings to Nominet, as unless people voice their concerns nothing will change.