TWSD: Privacy protection for commercial domains
One of my major pet peeves is supposedly legitimate companies hiding behind privacy protection in their whois records. There is absolutely no reason for a legitimate company to do this. There are lots of reasons a non-legitimate company might want to hide behind privacy services, but I have never heard a good reason for legitimate companies to hide.
Look, a company sending any commercial email is required by law to provide a physical postal address in every email they send. What point is there, then, to hiding addresses in whois records? The only thing it does is make a sender look like a spammer. If a sender is a business, then they need to have a real business address anyway, and that address should be available in their domain registration.
It may seem like a trivial point, it may seem minor, but spammers use domain privacy services to hide the various tendrils of their businesses. They don’t want anyone to be able to tell that domain A is related to domain B is related to domain C. Proxy services let them trivially hide their identities. This is the major business use of privacy protection. Real companies don’t need to hide behind privacy services.
Using domain privacy services make senders look like spammers. One trivial thing that ISPs can do is stop providing FBLs or whitelistings to domains behind privacy services. This will weed out spammers without doing harm to real senders. Certification services can refuse to certify companies that hide their identity. My small contribution to the cause is to refuse to represent any company to an ISP if their domain is behind a privacy service.
Just to be clear, I have no problem with personal, non-business domains using privacy services. There are valid reasons individuals may want to hide their physical location. But businesses? Step up and quit hiding.
On the subject of privacy services, Mickey recently reviewed a court ruling that commented on the legality of using privacy services. The court says:
private registration for the purpose of concealing the actual registrant’s identity would constitute “material falsification.”
Is this really something a legitimate business would do?