When is it Better not to Use Whois Privacy on your Domains?

With the entire advocacy for Whois privacy all over the web, it may be surprising to learn that there are cases when skipping it may prove to be the wiser choice.

Many domain registrars offer the option of Whois privacy where you can substitute your identifying information in the Whois record, ie names and contact details such as email address, phone number, etc. with the service provider’s. In that way, it is argued, you may protect your personal data from spamming, identity theft, etc.

However, one domain registrar’s study shows that using Whois privacy has had no significant effect on cases of cybercrime, net abuse, copyright infringements, etc. This suggests that there may not be any direct correlation between using Whois privacy and cybercrime prevention.

To use or not to use Whois privacy is not such a big deal if you’re registering a domain to run your own private noncommercial blog. However, if it’s for your new startup’s website e.g. an online shop, then it is worth considering the following:

– To market well means to earn your target audience’s trust. With the innate anonymity of the Internet, credibility is one of the key factors that makes your business attractive. If your Whois data is private, this may make your customers/partners suspicious. Spammers and scammers always use it, so you wouldn’t want your business associated with such practices from the very beginning.
– Strictly speaking, when you opt for Whois privacy on your domains, their ‘official’ owner becomes the service provider, not you, the registrant, which poses a potential ownership risk.

And yet, if you don’t use Whois privacy, your Whois records will be on public display and easily accessible by a simple Whois checkup. For your peace of mind, there are simple security measures that you can take:

– You can set up a separate email account only for domain registrations so if anything malicious hits it, it is easier to contain it.
– You can also set up a corporate name and register the domain on that name and address. Thus, there is no need to expose your home address. If you don’t have a corporate name and address, you may still avoid revealing your physical location to the world by entering a PO box address. Since that may not look credible enough, you may simply use the address of the respective post office with the PO box number as the apartment number. Maintaining a PO box is also a cheap option.

All in all, the biggest advantage of sticking to regular domain registration without Whois privacy on your domains, is that it sends out the message that you’ve got nothing to hide and your business is legitimate. Taking security measures like the mentioned above may keep your email account and data safe, so it may as well be a win-win.

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