The privacy of the owner of the domain remain has been in the debate from many years now. Most of the domain name owners do not want to reveal their identity to the public. Some of them are concerned about the unlimited messages from the potential buyers of the domain whereas others are scared of the security issues that they or their website might face. Because of this purpose, the domain name owners use proxy settings or privacy protection features to hide their true identity. This privacy enabling has helped the domain owners to keep their names secured but at the same time, this feature has provided protection to the people who are misusing their domain names because of the anonymity, thus creating the legal issues. In this article, we are going to inform you about the features of domain name privacy, its importance and the legal aspects involved with the issue. Let us just start with the purpose and importance of privacy settings.
What Does Domain Name Privacy Do?Domain name privacy is the same as having an unlisted phone number, which cannot be found in any online directories. Such a setting helps the domain name owners to register their domain with a pseudo name so that no one will create any problems for them later. Such a pseudonym is linked with the email forwarding service. Even by running a WHOIS search, you will not be able to find the real owner of the website or found by the others. So, you can feel secure and protected while buying the domain name. The WHOIS service generally require the data of the original owner, so that the online world can remain protected too, but in the cases where privacy is protected through proxy settings, such a search will only remain the proxy provider as the owner of the website.
Who Is The Owner Of The Domain Name?As discussed, we have highlighted that a pseudonym linked to the email service provider is usually found at the back of the WHOIS search, so the next question is that are such services the real owners of such domain names. Or is it the provider of the privacy service who becomes the legal owner of the domain name?
In general cases, the name and other important detail of the registrant of the domain name are required by the domain registrar. However, when the privacy settings are enabled, the owner of the domain name becomes masked. And it involves the legal matter.
In one of the cases of cybersquatting, such an issue has been raised. The case of Solid Host v. Name Cheap is a good example. In this case, Name Cheap was the privacy service provider for a particular domain owner who wished to hide his or her identity. This is why the contact details of Name Cheap were visible as the owner. Solid Host one of the companies wanted to know the real owner from the privacy provider company but on refusal, the case was taken to the court. In the interim motion, the court considered Name Cheap as the owner of the domain name and thus guilty of cybersquatting despite the acknowledgment of the fact that someone else was the real owner involved in such an act
However, another case where the registrar of a domain name was bankrupted, the orders of the court required the litigating partners to reveal the identity of the real owners so that their domain name, which was still listed, could be transferred to the other registrar. So, it proves that the real owners are different from the privacy service provider.
How Can The Privacy Protection Service Be Used Legally?The privacy of the domain owners can be important and this is why most businesses and individuals go for these services. A business going to launch a new campaign or new products might want to get a domain while hiding the original identity so that the competitors would not know about the future moves. Similarly, non-governmental organizations, investigative journalists, researchers, and even whistleblowers might not like their identity to be revealed because of the security concerns that can be created as a result. So, in all these conditions the feature of masking the identity while buying the domain name is for the betterment of the domain users.
So, Is It Legal?Yeah, the discussion of two opposite cases has led to the confusion that whether it is legal or illegal, right. ICANN website has provided a statement that in case of any issues or complaints against the service provider, you must consider the laws depending upon your area and this subject is out of the jurisdiction of 2001 RAA and 2009 RAA.
Under 2013 RAA, the service providers are expected to provide the users with the service terms on their website and follow the terms mentioned. The business contact information, communication handling, condition of ending service, WHOIS data and access to support services are amongst some of the defined areas that are to be specifically provided by the service provider. Additionally, 2013 RAA also states that not getting the privacy protected WHOIS is data is not an issue and no such complaints will be entertained. You can only complaint against the service provider if after trying your best, you have not been able to get in contact with the domain owner. Probably because of the inaccurate information provided or the activation of privacy or proxy settings.