There are many benefits to keeping your Whois information public.
GDPR has been in effect for a few months now and the impact on the domain name industry has been huge. The biggest impact is with Whois; many major domain name registrars are now masking all Whois data.
There are some benefits to this, including reduced spam and telemarketing calls. But domain name owners should probably do what’s necessary to keep their Whois information public. Here’s why:
1. Fewer UDRP/legal actions
A consequence of masked Whois is that companies that consider filing a UDRP or legal action no longer know who they’re filing against. WIPO has changed its process so that it informs the Complainant about who the owner is and then lets the complainant amend their complaint.
There are some problems with this. One is that if it’s obvious that you have rights or legitimate interests in the domain name (e.g. it matches your last name), the Complainant might ordinarily not file the complaint. But once they file, will they actually decide at this point to withdraw the complaint?
This is less of an issue for domain investors than smaller domain owners/businesses. But for domain investors, this still creates a problem. Owning a domain as an investment can establish a legitimate interest in a domain name.
A Complainant might think twice when seeing who owns a domain name. For example, a smart Complainant will carefully consider its options if it knows a domain is registered by Frank Schilling’s company. They know he will fight back (even beyond UDRP if necessary). I have no doubt that some companies decide not to pursue a case because he owns the domain.
Also, keep in mind that some registrars don’t even have masked email forwarding addresses in Whois. If there’s an issue that can easily be cleared up through communication prior to getting to a UDRP or lawsuit, there’s simply no way for the other party to contact you.
2. More sales contacts
Domain purchase inquiries come from various sources: parked page landers, marketplaces, and Whois. Most of the large sales and purchases I make start with an email or phone contact.
3. A clear, public ownership record
Public Whois also creates a public record of domain name ownership that can be valuable in disputes.
How you can make your Whois public
There are two ways to make your Whois public.
One is to choose a domain name registrar that still publishes Whois info for non-EU residents. The biggest example is GoDaddy.
The second is to ask your registrar to make your Whois information public. The ICANN temporary Whois specification requires registrars to make this an option “as soon as commercially reasonable”. I’m not sure how difficult this is, but I would push your domain registrar if they deny your request.