Reminder: There is no Whois privacy for .us domain names – Domain Name Wire
Don’t expect to stay private if you register a .us domain name.
Last July, Chaya Raichik registered the domain name LibsofTikTok.com to accompany his Libs of TikTok Twitter account.
In October, it apparently decided to protect its brand by registering the corresponding domain in .net, .org, .info and .us. The latter ended up being a mistake.
Because the United States still does not allow Whois privacy for .us domain names, Raichik’s address, phone, and email were (and still are) public in the domain’s Whois record.
Raichik had tried to remain anonymous, even giving anonymous interviews to major news outlets. But registering the .us domain revealed his identity. It helped internet sleuths trace the story of his online hustle and served as the basis for a very public outing in the Washington Post yesterday.
The government removed Whois privacy on .us domains in 2005, causing an outcry from registrars, including GoDaddy. At the time, the registrars’ motivations may have been financial since they charged for Whois privacy. But nowadays, in a world of privacy regulations, including the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, Whois privacy has become the default on almost all domain registrations. An exception remains .us.
GoDaddy (NYSE:GDDY) acquired the company that manages the .us namespace on behalf of the US government in 2020. But the government is the ultimate arbiter of policy. I heard of a new push to allow privacy on .us domains, even before GoDaddy acquired the registry services operator that runs the domain.
But for now, here’s what about.us, operated by GoDaddy Registry, says about privacy:
The usTLD has an ongoing interest in ensuring that its top-level domain is securely administered and that the information in the authoritative database is reliable, accurate, and up-to-date. One of the mechanisms to ensure the integrity of the .US namespace is the collection of authentic information about the domain name holder. The usTLD Registry uses an algorithm to detect unintentional or intentional registration of proxy, anonymous, and/or private domain name registrations, and enforces a registrar’s obligation not to offer such services to .US domain name holders.