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Yes, your domain name registrar has made it impossible for people to contact you

Many registrars have removed all means for people to contact you.

I received an anonymous voicemail yesterday from an Enom customer who was frustrated that the Whois records for his domain names had been replaced with “fake” information. Here’s what he said:

I was just calling to see if you had heard anything about Enom changing everybody’s contact information to completely false information without their permission. I guess trying to comply with the European thing, but it’s a pretty sloppy way to do it. The address is a fake address, doesn’t forward, all the information is fake, there’s no way to contact anybody about technical issues or anything and they changed every one of mine for hundreds of domain names. I don’t know if they did everybody or not.

Here’s what a Whois record for one of my domains at Enom looks like:

The only way to reach someone about this domain through the Whois record is to email Enom’s abuse address.

Whois is in flux because of ICANN’s last-minute decision on how to handle Whois thanks to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Technically, registrars must provide a way for people to contact the domain name owner via email or a web form. That might take some time to implement, though. It will essentially be like anonymized emails addresses used in Whois privacy and proxy products.

Also, the registrar must give customers the option to publish their contact information. But the deadline for this is “as soon as commercially reasonable”. Here’s the relevant section from the temporary specification:

7.2.1. As soon as commercially reasonable, Registrar MUST provide the opportunity for the Registered Name Holder to provide its Consent to publish the additional contact information outlined in Section 2.3 of Appendix A for the Registered Name Holder.

Here’s what’s in section 2.3 of Appendix A:

Registry Registrant ID
Registrant Name
Registrant Street
Registrant City
Registrant Postal Code
Registrant Phone
Registrant Phone Ext
Registrant Fax
Registrant Fax Ext

Additionally, the registrar may (but is not required) provide customers with the opportunity to publish admin, tech and other contacts.

We’re in a rough period right now. ICANN is suing an affiliate of Enom over the company’s interpretation of GDPR as it relates to Whois data. Some registrars, like GoDaddy, continue to publish the data.

It’s going to take months for this to all shake out. And that might be optimistic.

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  1. Wa

    Huh?

    “Yes, your domain name registrar has made it impossible for people to contact you”

    You didn’t mention how the caller got your info . Are we supposed to assume enom gave them your info? How do you know that? And are you also assuming all registrars do this?

  2. Acro

    Why would he insist to be contacted via the WHOIS? Most domainers use WHOIS privacy to avoid just that. Of course, this crap at eNom makes things impossible; at Uniregistry you can still contact someone via the privacy email.

    Point your domain to a lander, whether it’s via a third party system or your own developed contact form. Problem solved.

    • Andrew Allemann

      Well, maybe he wants someone to be able to contact him about a technical issue, which was the original reason for the technical contact. And if he’s having a tech issue, people might not be able to reach him through a site that’s not working.

  3. Eugene Fraxby

    Another reason I’m glad I’m with Epik. They only made registrants with EU addresses private by default (which I am). A message to support and within a few hours the privacy was removed for all my domains, as well removing it as privacy by default setting for any new domains I add/transfer.

  4. John

    Ironically, I didn’t even look at the example there. But I am also able to confirm that it is a good domain. 🙂 Not just that, but also a great object lesson in the never ending effort to debunk and demythologize some of the errors and Kool-Aid drinking mistakes many people cling to in domaining and (mis)influencing the market needlessly to people’s detriment.

    No matter how you slice it, by domainer standards and domainer-influenced end user market standards, that domain is a “long” domain. Buy by real world standards and common sense standards, it is a perfectly “short” and extremely valuable domain. In fact, if some of the guilty ones can remove their heads from their you-know-whats for a moment, you will see clearly enough to realize that in some respects it is actually more valuable and more desirable for true end users – i.e., the actual market you wish to sell to – than the short and sweet one-word example of Licensing.com. This particular example is even about as axiomatic an case of common sense in that regard as it gets. When you are searching for “licensing” and ready to pay, you are searching for specific licensing; you are not just searching for “licensing.” If your business is “patent licensing,” for example, you are at a considerable competitive advantage if you have the domain shown above *no matter how lovely a status symbol Licensing.com alone would be*.

    So in a world where two of the three highest domain sales reported of all time are two-worders like VacationRentals.com for $35 million and PrivateJet.com for $30.18 million, but are not even mentioned at the NameBio top 100 list linked to from the interesting howmuchisadomainnameworth.com page (oh my – why not?) – Andrew’s domain shown in the thread here is truly killer and a gem.

    https://domaininvesting.com/30k-for-a-domain-name-it-was-the-best-money-ive-ever-spent-ever-ever/

  5. Robert Monster

    One tangential factor that we are also seeing relates to domain escrow transactions. It is now harder than ever to determine the actual identity of the owner for the purposes of ascertaining their legal right to sell a domain as the WHOIS details are now often obscured.

    In the case of Epik, we are able to conduct escrow transactions where we take physical control of the domain during the escrow process and in this way proactively verify domain ownership, updating the WHOIS record to the legal owner in the process as the domain resides in the domain seller’s account.

    The escrow transaction is actually a simultaneous close where the funds of the buyer and transmitted to the seller. There is effectively no counter-party risk in this scenario and the chain of title clearly shows that the seller was the legal registrant at the time of sale without requiring an Asset Purchase Agreement.

    Bottom line: simple, elegant, secure, and cheap.

    If your domain escrow agent is not an accredited registrar, ask them why not. A domain escrow agent that is not a registrar is like a bank without a vault.

  6. onlinedomain

    Oh I am sorry you are using Enom and/or Tucows.
    Why would they provide domain owners with “free” whois privacy (ie an anonymized email) when they are making a lot of money from it?
    No, no, no…

  7. Nunua

    Yea, I pay my registrar specifically to do just that. Why would I want my info on the Whois database when I have a contact form?

  8. John Napoletano

    Create or customize a parking page showing your name, preferred method of contact, and a link to your full portfolio on your personal website or a google Doc, Sedo profile, anything.

    The ‘fake’ whois and parking pages advertiser for those companies, not for you. Your company name Bright Star Hosting LLC is replaced with theirs GoDaddy Inc, for example.

    In the past tools like DomainIQ allowed domainers to peek at your portfolio and contact you if they wish to make an offer. Now we are being funneled into 20% commissions at auction sites to reach buyers. I’m oversimplifying, but that feels like the trend.

  9. nschaal

    The WHOIS information always was beneficial for domain buyers and seller. Unfortunately in the rest of Europe and particularly in Germany ultimate privacy must be protected; thus it also stifles the smooth flow of business (as well as the work of law enforcement).
    Count yourself lucky if your company, due to an outside of the EU location, can avoid those many rules and regulations imposed on all EU 27 member countries.
    Due to the potential penalties for non-compliances of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), I had deleted my contact information from my website and direct all interested parties to my domain host.

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