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Registrars: remove phone numbers from Whois

You can no longer justify the harm it causes consumers.

A screenshot of iPhone messages


GoDaddy is making long-overdue changes to Whois records sometime soon. As much as I’ll hate missing the data, this is going to significantly improve the customer experience due to the barrage of unwanted phone calls and texts that follow any domain registration.

For domains I purchase, I like to have visible contact information in Whois. But I use services to make this better: a special email address and Google Voice, which blocks a lot of spam texts and phone calls.

I recently bought a handful of domains at a registrar I don’t typically use and neglected to use my Google Voice number. The result has been a dreadful week of robocalls, telemarketers pitching me on web design products, and a lot of text message spam (see picture).

I can handle spam email messages because spam filtering is pretty good. SMS and phone call filtering aren’t as good.

So to the handful of registrars out there that haven’t yet redacted phone numbers from Whois, now is the time. The tradeoff between public data and abuse has clearly tilted toward redacting the information.

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Reader Interactions


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  1. Don murra

    It’s fine I guess. Here is my take, pretty much all of the new buyers who visit uni, godaddy or whoever will just go directly to godaddy.com or uni to make an offer for the name. So it 59 or 69 bucks for them to make offer and commission is charged. LOL.

    This is how they get so many inquires on peoples names. Your average buyer does not know where to look they look at the very top of whois this is why GD put godaddy.com and the rest of them.

    I won’t even talk about the phone numbers some registrars place on whois. Here is simple solution. They should block out everything and make the person inquiring about the name pay to contact you. Say $50 to make offer this would remove all spam and owner would get money instead of GD or uni, or any of them. I could way further than this but overall they have a good platform with afternic to showcase names. So not is all bad but the whois should be a money maker for the holder and not the companies.

    • snoopy1267

      “Say $50 to make offer this would remove all spam and owner would get money instead of GD or uni, or any of them.”

      Except they won’t pay you the money, it will go to them! They have no incentive to pay the domain owner.

  2. Eliahu Gal-Or

    I personally think that domain owners, like vehicle owners, should not be anonymous but publicly identifiable, to keep only responsible ones in the ecosystem.

    I want to be found and have nothing to hide.

    • Tf

      Vehicle owners are anonymous. Sure, there is a way for select parties to lookup the license plate, but a random person on the street can’t find your home address or name just by looking at your car.

      The “nothing to hide” argument completely misses the point of hiding personal details.

    • wanker

      Putting up barriers to entry only lowers the level of innovation you see online. It’s sad but over time we are seeing increasing barriers to entry to doing business online.

    • Brian Eller

      I see your point… to a point. I personally have no issue with name and address being published, but there is no reason that phone numbers need to be. If someone wants to send a letter to offer their services, that’s fine. But I think I speak for at least the vast majority of folks here, in saying how fed up I am with being interrupted by phone calls from someone with an accent you could cut with a chainsaw, who can’t pronounce your name, can’t pronounce the name of the domain (regardless of how simple either one is!), they want to spend 5 minutes asking “what are you Intending to do with the domain? What sort of site are you planning?”) And despite the fact that the domain contact says, and you answered the phone, “Advanced Web Design”, they are “surprised” when you tell them they’ve called a Web Design agency, and the domain was registered for a client. (And am I the only one who has gotten this sort of call on domains that expired over six months ago?)

  3. Dalip

    This is the reason why I always have privacy on all my domain names. I did a test once and purchased a domain name and left the WHOIS info open and exactly 2 hours from the time I registered the domain I started receiving SEO offers and web design development from all over the world

    • Justin Thyme

      Hello, again

      Since you don’t need design, Would you be interested in: –

      • iPhone and iPad apps
      • Android apps
      • HTML5 apps
      • Mac OSX apps
      • Custom Web apps
      • IOS apps

      May I know if you are interested in any of these services?

  4. Steve Heyns

    Purchasing Domain is like starting a business, all that information is public so your domain registration should be as well. All you are doing is hiding people who are bad guys. And guess who abuses this system, that is right the bad guys. So every time you say win for hiding my details you are actually scoring for the other team.

    • Tf

      Having a business, which involves the transfer of funds, and other things like liability and taxes, is nothing like having a domain. If I want to have a custom email address, or maybe I want to be able to share my hobbies with friends, doesn’t require that I share my personal information with every random person who gets curious.

      The authorities that are hunting the “bad people” can get around silly things like whois privacy, but an armchair investigator doesn’t need to be able to swat me because he doesn’t like something I said, or because he makes a connection to something else that isn’t real.

      (see what happened with the Reddit community after the Boston bombing.)

  5. Michael Muryn

    There is pro and con to everything. Having access to data is useful. Unfortunately because of abuse we don’t have access to something that could be useful. What if I want to contact a domain owner to try to buy the domain or any other legitimate reason?

    eBay used to be pretty open about all data too, then they hide a load of it. While it may avoid some problems to some, it also made it easier for some others to do bad things without being easily detected.

    A company contacting a new domain owner for web dev service is not wrong in itself and was even a clever idea. This might even have been useful to some. The problem is you don’t want 3 gazillion people doing the same.

    Long term, my wishes would be that we get back access to useful info (domains, eBay, etc.). I’m afraid it may never come back. But I wish we find solutions that will fix what we consider a problem.

    I’m always convinced that for any problems there is a solution.

    • Brian Eller

      As I mentioned in my other response, making an address available is fine. If you want to make an offer on my domain, I’ll tell you, I’m going to take a written offer far more seriously than someone calling out of the blue, saying “do you want to sell DOMAINNAME.COM?” Whether it is one of my own, or a domain registered on behalf of a client.

  6. Roy

    This is the very reason I have been purchasing all my domains at KartHost. they provide free Privacy Protection on all domains so zero marketing calls.

  7. Chris

    That’s why I have three phone numbers. I dont even pick up my official business phone, because Im really not interested in changing energy providers or a new insurance.

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