It’s been tough adjusting to less Whois data.
It’s been about 6 months since the European Unions General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect and many registrars obscured Whois records as a result. Here are some of the practical implications this has had for me personally as someone covering the domain business for DNW and as a domain investor.
Verifying domain ownership is more difficult
I’ve had several instances this year when I needed to verify who owned a domain name for a transaction and had difficulty doing so. In one case, a friend was buying a domain and wanted to verify that the person who previously owned it still did before doing the transaction. The registrar had masked Whois. I was able to find a recent public record showing the owner.
In another case, someone wanted to buy a domain and was at an impasse because the Whois record was masked and the domain didn’t resolve. There were no public Whois records so the potential transaction died.
Finally, I helped a friend who was trying to track down a domain owner. There was an active site but the owner didn’t identify himself on the site. There were some old Whois records but the most recent ones had info for a disconnected phone number and an email that bounced. Finally, by going further back in historical Whois records I was able to find a name and track the person down using other databases.
While historical Whois records from services like DomainTools help in some cases, the value of these records is degrading every day as new masked records are added.
It’s harder for people to reach out to me via whois
There are good reasons people reach out to me using Whois (want to buy a domain) and bad reasons (spam).
Fortunately, GoDaddy still displays contact info via web-based Whois. This has helped facilitate transactions this year. Most of my domains are at GoDaddy but it’s possible I’ve missed inquiries on domains at other registrars.
Finding domains for end-user sales reports is challenging
It’s a lot harder to find end user sales to report in my weekly end user reports. I can only find a handful each week based on Whois records so I have to dig deeper and hope that sites are already being developed. This means fewer names on the list.