Yes, your domain name registrar has made it impossible for people to contact you

Yes, your domain name registrar has made it impossible for people to contact you

Many registrars have removed all means for people to contact you.

I received an anonymous voicemail yesterday from an Enom customer who was frustrated that the Whois records for his domain names had been replaced with “fake” information. Here’s what he said:

I was just calling to see if you had heard anything about Enom changing everybody’s contact information to completely false information without their permission. I guess trying to comply with the European thing, but it’s a pretty sloppy way to do it. The address is a fake address, doesn’t forward, all the information is fake, there’s no way to contact anybody about technical issues or anything and they changed every one of mine for hundreds of domain names. I don’t know if they did everybody or not.

Here’s what a Whois record for one of my domains at Enom looks like:

The only way to reach someone about this domain through the Whois record is to email Enom’s abuse address.

Whois is in flux because of ICANN’s last-minute decision on how to handle Whois thanks to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Technically, registrars must provide a way for people to contact the domain name owner via email or a web form. That might take some time to implement, though. It will essentially be like anonymized emails addresses used in Whois privacy and proxy products.

Also, the registrar must give customers the option to publish their contact information. But the deadline for this is “as soon as commercially reasonable”. Here’s the relevant section from the temporary specification:

7.2.1. As soon as commercially reasonable, Registrar MUST provide the opportunity for the Registered Name Holder to provide its Consent to publish the additional contact information outlined in Section 2.3 of Appendix A for the Registered Name Holder.

Here’s what’s in section 2.3 of Appendix A:

Registry Registrant ID
Registrant Name
Registrant Street
Registrant City
Registrant Postal Code
Registrant Phone
Registrant Phone Ext
Registrant Fax
Registrant Fax Ext

Additionally, the registrar may (but is not required) provide customers with the opportunity to publish admin, tech and other contacts.

We’re in a rough period right now. ICANN is suing an affiliate of Enom over the company’s interpretation of GDPR as it relates to Whois data. Some registrars, like GoDaddy, continue to publish the data.

It’s going to take months for this to all shake out. And that might be optimistic.

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