A new sister company of Go Daddy Software Inc is to start offering internet users anonymous domain name registration from today, becoming the first major domain name registrar to do so,Kevin Murphy writes
Go Daddy founder Bob Parsons has set up Domains By Proxy Inc, essentially a Go Daddy reseller that will enter its own contact information, rather than the registrant's, into the Whois database, whenever a registration is made.
The idea is to offer people who wish to publish anonymously online a means to do so without having their home address, email address and telephone number available publicly. The service would be useful equally to people concerned about spam as those that have personal reasons for not connecting their real life with their web site.
"Go Daddy is not withholding registrant information," Parsons told ComputerWire. "Domains By Proxy is purchasing the domain, then giving the customer the full benefits of ownership." The service will likely cost $5 to $10 more than a regular registration with Go Daddy, Parsons said, though pricing had not been confirmed at press time.
He said that registrants enter an agreement that allows them to do anything with a domain they could do if they owned it, including sell or transfer it, but they don't actually own it officially. If registrants do anything bad with the domain, such as provide illegal pornography or send out spam, they lose the benefits of anonymity.
The Internet Corp for Assigned Names and Numbers mandates that all accredited domain registrars provide complete and accurate contact information in all their Whois database entries. This obligation is backed strongly by the intellectual property lobby, which likes to be able to notify people of trademark or copyright infringements online.
According to Parsons, users who sign up for the service still have to abide by ICANN's Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy, which is used to settle disputes over trademarks in domain names. Anonymity can be withdrawn if a trademark infringement occurs, but it was not immediately clear how DBP determines infringement.
In addition, Domains By Proxy may be protected by two layers of removal from the ICANN accreditation contract. First, Go Daddy, which has the contractual relationship with ICANN, is a separate company from DBP. Second, officially it is DBP that "owns" the domain, and therefore must provide its contact details.
"It was not necessary to get ICANN's approval," Parsons said. "There are no violations of ICANN's rules or policy." An ICANN spokesperson agreed that, at first glance, DBP does not appear to be doing anything wrong. ICANN is looking more closely to make sure, the spokesperson said.
The service will have the added benefit for Go Daddy of protecting a portion of its registration base against the predatory tactics of competing registrars. At least three registrars currently stand accused of data mining Whois to find the addresses of their competitors' customers, for the purposes of luring them away.
Users of the service can have email sent to the address in the Whois forwarded to them, and can even have DBP act as a snail-mail proxy, for an additional fee. Parsons said the company has patents pending on the technology behind the service.