What is Domain Privacy?
Many domain registrars offer domain privacy as a premium add-on, which means you must pay for domain privacy when you register a domain name. GoDaddy is one registrar that makes plenty of money doing this – they currently charge $9.99 if you want to purchase domain privacy. As a domain investor, when I buy domains I never choose the option for domain privacy when it is offered. But before I go down this rabbit-hole, here’s the protection domain privacy can offer you:
Information about every domain owner is available in a public WHOIS database. Information in that database includes the owner’s first and last name, address, email, and phone number. This information is populated by the domain owner at time at registration in the domain name contact information. According to GoDaddy:
Domain privacy is the ability to mask the information you used to register your domain name. When you purchase a domain from a registrar like GoDaddy (or any other registrar for that matter), they are required to report specific bits of information about the consumer for public record. That public database is called WHOIS.
Requirement is a strong word, given the new EU laws around General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR); briefly, GDPR limit’s the amount of information companies can share about you. However, in the US and many other countries, your privacy is still not important. Fortunately for the rest of us, global companies like GoDaddy must comply with GDPR regulations or face stiff penalties. Google, for example, has paid millions for violating this regulation.
why I don’t want domain privacy
As a domain investor I want people to buy my domains, and in order to do that, they need to know who owns the domain. I want potential buyers to be able to find out how to contact me using the aforementioned WHOIS lookup. For this reason, I intentionally did not purchase domain name privacy on any of my domains registered at GoDaddy.
GoDaddy Gave me Free Domain Privacy anyways
To my surprise, GoDaddy has gifted me with free domain privacy, which I discovered when I went to list several domains on sedo.com. In order to list domains for sale on many sites, I need to verify I own the domains , Sedo provides at least 3 options.
Copy your verification ID, log in to your registrar account, and navigate to your domain DNS settings section. Often, this button is called “Settings”, “Config”, “Console”, or something similar. Select the record type TXT or CNAME and paste your verification ID in that field (make sure not to paste blank spaces).
I did not like this option since my For-Sale Landing Pages are currently setup through Efty.com – meaning the name servers have been changed to point to Efty name servers. To do what they’re asking, I’d have to change all the name servers back to my Domain Registrar, add the TXT record, then change the name servers back to Efty. Lucky for me, there was another option.
Ownership verification may take several business days to complete, and the seller may be asked to confirm access to the Administrative Contact (Admin-C) email address provided in the Whois records for the domain. To help expedite the process, privacy protection services may be temporarily disabled, or the Whois records updated with the email address listed in the Sedo account. If you are interested in parking the domain, we recommend that you update the DNS settings.
However, 2 or 3 days after adding my domains to Sedo, I got an email stating that they could not verify ownership since I had domain privacy enabled on these domains. I immediately thought they were mistaken, so I went to WHOIS lookup – and surprisingly verified my domains had privacy setup. My next thought was this was a mistake by GoDaddy – since I opted out of the Domain Privacy offered when I bought domains through GoDaddy, also saving me $9.99 per year per domain. Here’s a snippet of my domain name dashboard, you can see all of my privacy is turned
A quick WHOIS lookup is proof that adno.org (shown above) does indeed have privacy enabled:
GODADDY WILL NOT REMOVE DOMAIN PRIVACY FROM MY DOMAINS
I contacted GoDaddy via their Chat, and told them the issue. After a few minutes checking with their technical team, the support person told me that I was part of a group of customers who were opted into privacy as part of a test they were conducting to improve their GDPR compliance. To be clear, I live and conduct business in the United States. GoDaddy support went on to say that because of the test configuration, there was no way for them to turn off Domain Privacy for my domains. I thanked them for their help and moved on to plan B.
I’m never going to complain about getting a free service – I have many domains registered with GoDaddy, which adds up to hundreds of dollars in free domain privacy – however, in this instance, it cost me about twenty minutes of my time
how i finally got my domains verified so I could list them for sale
Luckily, I was able to bulk change the name servers of the domains I have registered with back to GoDaddy nameservers, and add the TXT record that Sedo requested to verify ownership. However, adding the TXT record meant drilling down 3 pages deep in the DNS Management page of each domain. Then I was able bulk update the name servers back to Efty.
if you’re paying Godaddy $9.99 for privacy…
In the future, when I buy domains through GoDaddy, I’ll go ahead and add the TXT record so that Sedo can verify ownership before I transfer the name server to Efty. However, I am a bit surprised that GoDaddy would give me this free service without asking – and what about those individuals who pay $9.99 for this service? Does GDPR mean that GoDaddy will make everyone’s information private?