GoDaddy to Remove Public WHOIS Information

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GoDaddy to Remove Public WHOIS Information 

GoDaddy has been in the buzz of late due to an email sent by the web hosting and domain registration giant stating that it would be making changes to its public WHOIS records. Rather, the company will be removing its registrants’ WHOIS data from public access. 

The email’s subject line went, “On May 18th, 2020, we are retiring privacy for backorders.” Upon further probing, the VP of Operations representative at GoDaddy, Paul Bindel, confirmed the changes, stating, “Due to changing privacy regulations in the US and around the world, GoDaddy is in the process of making some changes to align our offerings similar to what we did in GDPR regions.”

For those of you who may not know, the GDPR is an EU (European Union) regulation applies to all the EU countries and the European Economic Area. The rule aims to protect the data and privacy of businesses within its zone. Thus private information cannot be transferred outside the EU under any circumstances. Therefore, GoDaddy has been redacting its WHOIS records for its domain registrant customers based in the GDPR area. 

If we understand correctly, now GoDaddy plans to implement similar policies for its customers whose domains are registered with US addresses. These changes will be implemented by early June this year. 

What This Means for Consumers

GoDaddy’s new policy of removing its Public WHOIS information will majorly impact the company’s users. Where their data will be protected and redacted from public access, consumers will not have similar access to the contact information of domain registrants of businesses they might want information about. 

It also means that customers must quickly adjust and adapt to how their data is stored and recorded in GoDaddy’s database. For instance, if a user wants to identify which web hosting provider is associated with a particular domain or who has legitimate ownership of a domain, they will no longer be able to.

What This Means for Domain Investors

This policy change will be a massive blow to domain investors whose entire business relies on buying and selling domain names through the use of WHOIS information for lead generation. With these new changes in place, domain investors will no longer be able to contact potential domain owners with offers of buying or selling their domains. 

GoDaddy, a leader in domain registration and web hosting providers has an extensive portfolio of distinguished domain owners. For the investors, not being able to get contact information like email addresses and phone numbers of these domain registrants will be a big blow and a loss of potential revenue. Though they will have the option of using GoDaddy’s WHOIS contact form, performing due diligence and confirming domain name ownership will be a complicated process.

Increase in UDRP Filings

Another negative consequence we predict from this new policy by GoDaddy will be a surge in the number of UDRPs (Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy) filings. UDRP was a system created to mediate and settle disputes around domain registrations by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). 

Since businesses cannot check who the legitimate domain owners are, they will file more UDRPs, acting as a shot in the dark, just to assess who has legal rights to a domain. However, these UDRPs will be blind at best since there will be no way to ascertain the legal ownership of parties to their domain. 

Summing It Up

WHOIS is a query and response protocol that helps store and access the data record of the registered users and converts it into a readable format. The WHOIS record has been a useful source of information as it lets consumers keep track of information about the backend of a website and monitor available domains. Removal of such information will indeed have huge effects on the domain investment market. 

We have yet to see how GoDaddy’s policy change will pan out in the US. Whether domain owners will have the option to opt out of the new policy is yet to be determined.

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