Contact Privacy Video Now Available for Download

Internet privacy is a big deal these days. Privacy breaches at various sites have exposed sensitive data like home addresses, phone numbers and email and more.

But for domain name owners, there’s another easily preventable privacy pitfall out there that could cause just as much headache as a major social networking site leaking their personal data.

There are thousands of home-based businesses launched every year where the owner fails to enable the Contact Privacy feature of his or her domain name, resulting in the publishing of their home address, phone number and email address the domain’s publicly searching WHOIS record.

There’s even a chance these businesses could be your customers.

It’s been our experience that Contact Privacy is not enabled because domain owners don’t realize that WHOIS records contain their personal information and viewable by the entire Internet.

Have you talked with your customers about Contact Privacy?

At OpenSRS, we know you’re busy with other things. Heck, domain names might even be the least of your worries. So we thought we’d make things easy on you and over the past few weeks, we put some effort into developing white label video, along with a one pager describing Contact Privacy.

They’re ready to use ‘right out of the box’, but if you’d like to brand them, or otherwise customize, tweak, and tailor to your business, you’re welcome to do that too!

To download or preview these resources now, visit our Contact Privacy page in the Marketing Resources section of the OpenSRS website.

10 thoughts on “Contact Privacy Video Now Available for Download

  1. We have hundreds of domains with OpenSRS and would like to make the Contact Privacy feature enabled across all of them. Is there any way to do them in a batch instead of by single domains?

    Also, how would I make this feature a default for any new or transferred-in domains?

    Thanks!

  2. Have You Talked With Your Customers About Credibility?

    “There are thousands of home-based businesses launched every year where the owner fails to enable the Contact Privacy feature of his or her domain name, resulting in the publishing of their home address, phone number and email address the domain’s publicly searching WHOIS record.”

    Fails to enable? Perhaps the business owner is thinking “My customers need to know I’m legitimate and accessible.”

    “This often isn’t a problem for big business, but for some small business owners working out of their home, having their sensitive information protected is a priority.”

    Sensitive information? My gosh people… this isn’t your SIN number, tax form or medical records. How do you feel about the phone book?

    By all means, perhaps have a separate business address, email and contact phone. This “the sky is falling” privacy scare mongering is unbalanced…. and there are repercussions to hiding from your customer.

    Most business is NOT private regardless of size… at least not the type you are using the internet to advertise and reach potential clients with. If you want complete Privacy, why are you even on the internet? The first thing I do when buying online is to check whether the business actually exists… and anonymous Privacy Listings for a business website scream CAUTION to me every time.

    “I’m not going to tell you who I am… now buy my product/service and give me your credit card number.”

    Really?

    And Ken S…. perhaps ask your clients first? Not everyone takes Chicken Little seriously.

  3. Hey Kenny, thanks for offering your thoughts. We’ve invested a significant amount of time on the subject of Contact Privacy and I have a few things to offer in response.

    You said: “Have You Talked With Your Customers About Credibility?”

    In my view, credibility doesn’t play a significant role in whois records.

    Remember that we’re talking about a very specific type of domain owner here as well. In this specific instance, the target audience is a home-based entrepreneur or business owner who would prefer to not have their home address listed. If you asked around, you’ll find that when you talk to these kinds of domain owners, they’ll you they don’t list their home address on their website and many of them use a PO Box to avoid using their actual address.

    Your phone book example doesn’t hold water for an important reason: the name, address and phone number listed in a phonebook are not associated with photos, opinions, and other traces of Internet activity. By associating a domain name’s content, with contact information, a domain owner is opening themselves up to potentially unwanted interactions. I could provide many scary examples about the dangers of this if you like, but I don’t want to make it seem like the “sky is falling” :)

    On the subject of credibility, it’s been my experience that very few (ie none) of the people I’ve spoken with have relied on whois record data as a factor related to making a purchase.

    You said: “Fails to enable? Perhaps the business owner is thinking “My customers need to know I’m legitimate and accessible.”

    I disagree with you on this point. This is what SSL certs are for.

    You said: “Sensitive information? My gosh people… this isn’t your SIN number, tax form or medical records. How do you feel about the phone book?”

    We believe that home addresses and phone numbers can be considered sensitive information by many business owners operating from their home.

    If I know your home address and your phone number and your employer, it wouldn’t take much digging to learn when you’re home and when you’re not. I’d probably also learn through some other online sites you use that you just purchased a large screen TV, or a fancy new computer. A home address can be just as sensitive as a credit card number.

    If my credit card number is stolen, I’m protected by the credit card companies. They’ll just send me a new card. But if I’m 30 year old single mother working from my home and some wacko has my home address, what is my recourse? Do I move?

    You said: “By all means, perhaps have a separate business address, email and contact phone. This “the sky is falling” privacy scare mongering is unbalanced…. and there are repercussions to hiding from your customer.”

    There’s no scare mongering here… just an honest presentation of an important topic.

    You said: “Most business is NOT private regardless of size… at least not the type you are using the internet to advertise and reach potential clients with. If you want complete Privacy, why are you even on the internet? The first thing I do when buying online is to check whether the business actually exists… and anonymous Privacy Listings for a business website scream CAUTION to me every time.

    I’m not sure exactly what you’re trying to convey in the above paragraph, but it sounds like you’re saying: a person’s decision to participate in a public network like the Internet means they should have no expectation of privacy. If what you’re saying is true, then why does Facebook have any privacy settings at all?

    You said: ““I’m not going to tell you who I am… now buy my product/service and give me your credit card number.”

    This is what SSL certs are for.

    You said: “And Ken S…. perhaps ask your clients first? Not everyone takes Chicken Little seriously.”

    Chicken Little was a cute, infant cartoon bird, with no real world experience, Kenny :) Tucows is the world’s third largest domain registrar with more than 10 million domains under management. We don’t make this stuff up. This investment in resources is based on countless real world conversations we’ve had with our resellers and many of our resellers count on us to advise them in areas such as this.

    To sum up, Contact Privacy plays an important role in specific situations and more often than not, a business owner operating from their home is probably unaware that their sensitive information is exposed on the Internet.

    Ultimately, the choice whether or not to enable it is up to each and every individual, but as responsible stewards of the Internet, we (and our resellers) have a responsibility to these domain owners to educate them on their available options.

  4. Hi Ken,

    Like Kenny suggested, for domains that do not currently have it enabled, you might want to check with the domain holders first.

    As for new domains, if you use Storefront, Contact Privacy is enabled by default (for Registries that support it). If you register through the RWI, the default is off, but it’s a simple checkbox to enable. If you’re using the API, there’s an API call to enable it.

    Thanks for checking in!
    -Ben

  5. Hi Ben,

    Since you went to such lengths to make a point by point rebuttal… I’ll respond to a few of your comments. Suffice to say, we’ll have to agree on disagreeing.

    Your entire argument on credibility seems to fall back on SSL certs. The fact is, SSL certs can be obtained by just about anyone for any reason… based solely on WHOIS content that is entirely unverified. While their origin was honorable and valid, the competitiveness of the expanding hungry market place has reduced some certs to little more than a way to get around the need to have one. I recall paying Thawte several hundred dollars in the early years, and waiting a week or so for them to go through several stages of verification including personal contact. $10.95, a Google email and a couple minutes of your time will buy you one now. (no I don’t like that, but that’s the way it’s become)

    Your comment re: “Many scary examples” and “some whacko” is exactly my point regarding fear mongering. Life itself is a risk, Ben… we all take risks every day. The point I would suggest is to be responsible… not trembling in a corner. If you think some Privacy listing is the be all to protecting you from such elements, well… we obviously have differing experiences. No amount of car accident stories will stop me from buying a car nor taking a highway trip. However yes, I have learned how to drive defensively w/o giving up the pleasures… and I still need to show my license plate on my vehicle and a valid address on my license as identification.

    Implying a registrant is putting their safety on the line by tying their name to a domain and with a credible address is unwarranted. Besides, I made it clear that the option was to use business contact info such as your postal box example. At least it indicates there is someone actually behind the business that is… well… behind it… not some paper company created by a Registrar.

    Yes, I check the WHOIS for all sites I deal with… that was my point. Perhaps many don’t… perhaps they really should start. However the Privacy WHOIS item has become a cash cow for many registrars (Yes, I understand Tucows does not charge), so I’m not holding my breath that they might consider spreading the notion.

    Facebook has Privacy settings because it is a social interaction site, not a store. Despite the fact that goods are now being advertised and sold, you are comparing personal privacy to an online business.

    Sorry you missed the Chicken Little reference… used to be most people got that. As for making stuff up, the article was an opinion… so there’s nothing to make up. You asked for comments, I gave you mine.With all due respect, don’t let “world’s third largest” go to your head. Enron made mistakes too. But do understand, I have great respect for Tucows and in no way am insinuating their reputation is in any way questionable. We’re discussing your article here though, and that is an opinion no more valid than mine.

    My final comment, which is a point I did not make initially, questions the very appropriateness of Private listings. Depending of course on the format used, are not most registrants giving up direct ownership of their domain? It would appear they no longer have any direct agreement with ICANN or the supporting registry of the TLD or Country Code domain they have registered. If all personal info is removed, their only claim lies within the interim agreement they have made with the company providing the “Privacy”.

    All registration agreements pretty clearly state who the real domain licensee is… and in many if not all cases, the registrant is removing their name from the agreement. The even more puzzling point is that registration agreements make it very clear that accurate info is required, and that the Registrant is the one named as such… not a person attached in a Privacy database.

    The Opensrs agreement states “The person named as Registrant on the Whois shall be the registered name holder.”

    GoDaddy’s agreement states “You agree that for each domain name registered by You the following information will be made publicly available in the Whois directory as determined by ICANN Policy and may be sold in bulk as set forth in the ICANN agreement:

    * The domain name
    * Your name and postal address

    Enom’s agreement states “You must provide certain current, complete and accurate information about you with respect to your Account information and with respect to the WHOIS information for your domain name(s). You must maintain and update this information as needed to keep it current, complete and accurate. You must submit the following with respect to you, the administrative, technical, and billing contacts for your domain name registration(s) and other Services: name, postal address, e-mail address, voice telephone number, and where available, fax number.

    It leads me to consider at least, that these so called “Privacy Settings” may not be entirely thought out in the legal perspective.

    But now I’ve opened up a whole new can of worms… perhaps this is meant for more general debate in a larger forum.

  6. Kenny: I’m a bit embarrassed that I did in fact miss the Chicken Little reference. I bet I’ll hear about this one from my colleagues on Monday. :)

    As for the points you’ve made, I can’t say I agree with them, but I get the feeling it would take some time for us to find some middle ground on the subject. Perhaps you’re right and this is the appropriate time to say thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    On a semi-related note, I have some questions that I think you might be able to help me with. I’ll send you an email sometime this weekend.

    Have a great weekend (and thanks again for chiming in),
    -b

  7. I can’t believe I read through all this.

    Kenny: Every other major registrar in the game sells privacy services. TuCows resellers NEED to be able to offer a competitive privacy product (which they do).

    This is a reseller BUSINESS venue. Maybe your time would be better spent trolling the slashdot forums. I am sure they would love to hear all about your hypothetical and theoretical objections to privacy.

    The reality is, for the past decade whois details have been propagated, warehoused, archived forever by 3rd parties, abused and/or sold. Registrants certainly have a right to opt out of this kind of abuse and they have been demanding the means with which to do so for as long as I can remember. Being such an astute business person, you should realize this and meet your customer’s needs.

    Tucows: Thanks for the promo video, this is an excellent tool!

  8. George, I can’t speak for other registrars, but I can tell you while we cooperate with law enforcement and comply with the laws, there is no paid service that can be purchased that would release the contact information in our protected whois records.

Leave a Reply