What’s the difference between whois privacy and whois proxy?
With talk in Washington and policy circles about whois privacy, I think it would be good to define both whois privacy and whois proxy, and discussed how the terms are usually used.
Traditionally, whois privacy has referred to a service in which the owner of a domain name is listed in the public whois record contacts, but the privacy service’s contact details (phone, address, email et al) are listed instead of the owner’s.
This makes the registrant the owner of the domain but keeps them from getting telemarketing calls or having to disclose their home address.
A whois proxy goes a step further by masking the identity of the registrant. The proxy service acts as a proxy registrant. Here’s an example of a proxy in whois:
Network Solutions is the only large registrar I’m aware of that offers whois privacy. Over the past year they have mostly transitioned to a proxy under the name Perfect Privacy.
In practice, most people refer to whois proxy services as whois privacy. Since services have mostly moved from privacy to proxy, I also use the terms interchangeably on this blog.
Although whois proxy gets a bad rap, there are a lot of legitimate uses for it.
Companies might want to hide new product or branding plans, for example. Also, having your contact details exposed in whois leads to telemarking calls, spam, etc.
If you’re using a privacy service because having your information exposed would cause harm to you, be careful. It’s not foolproof. For example, Domains By Proxy will remove the proxy if you get hit with a UDRP. This is because it’s just a proxy, and you need to be able to defend the UDRP.
Thanks for this. I never really thought of the two as being different, this article helps clarify the difference between proxy and privacy.
John Berryhill says
It’s important to point out that dramatic changes may be coming to the way that Proxy/Privacy services operate.
The ICANN GNSO GNSO Privacy & Proxy Services Accreditation Issues Working Group has published its initial report, and it is now open for public comment until July 21.
Anyone with an interest in these types of services, and what they will or will not be able to provide in the future, should look over the initial report linked to that page, and consider submitting comments before the deadline.
Martin Sly says
Can you please add a screenshot of a whois privacy too?
Graeme Bunton says
The current PPSAI initial report proposes not to distinguish between the two types of services for the accreditation program.
I would suggest flipping the language around a bit in your post, something like: “Although public exposure gets a bad rap, there are a lot of legitimate uses for it.”
Which is to say. there is nothing inherently bad about privacy by default, and one should be wary of those who suggest there is.
I think that the big Corporates and their Lawyers are the hypocrites behind this move to TRY and get rid of privacy ,yet at same time many of them use Privacy services themselves. Never ceases to amaze me how the wealthy and their companies just hate having to spend money buying domains when they can issue URDP’s.