I registered my first domain in 1998 when Network Solutions was the only option and domains could easily be hijacked by spoofing an email. Back then, WHOIS privacy didn’t exist and personal details could easily be scraped for marketing/spam. This resulted in me getting a load of junk mail to my home that I didn’t want.

Luckily, most domain registrars now offer a WHOIS privacy service to disguise all or part of your personal information. There’s really no reason these days to go with a registrar that lacks this service or tries to charge for it.

While most registrars offer this service, they don’t all offer complete WHOIS anonymity if that’s something that concerns you. Some will always include the actual name of the contact and some will actually allow you to select which pieces you want hidden. Once that information is in your domain’s history, it can be tracked down even if you later change it. If keeping your name and contact information hidden is important, it would be a good idea to look up a few existing domains with a new registrar before using them for a new registration or transfer.

 

DreamHost
www.dreamhost.com

They were one of the first registrars I used after Network Solutions. They hide all of your information and while it seems to be working fine today, I’ve had difficulties in the past receiving messages sent to their proxy email address. This is a pain if you are trying to transfer your domain because the registrar will send an authorization request to that email. A couple times I had no choice but to remove the privacy and use a real email address in order to successfully transfer my domain.

Registry Registrant ID: 
Registrant Name: PRIVATE REGISTRANT
Registrant Organization: A HAPPY DREAMHOST CUSTOMER
Registrant Street: 417 ASSOCIATED RD #324
Registrant Street: C/O RUDEOTTER.COM
Registrant City: BREA
Registrant State/Province: CA
Registrant Postal Code: 92821
Registrant Country: US
Registrant Phone: +1.7147064182
Registrant Phone Ext: 
Registrant Fax: 
Registrant Fax Ext:
Registrant Email: 27SNTBV6NE6PZVG@PROXY.DREAMHOST.COM

 

Gandi
www.gandi.net

For the most part I like this registrar. Unfortunately, they display the name and Gandi handle ID for all contacts on the domain: owner, admin, and tech. You can create additional handles if you want to provide more privacy and can even select from non-individual types. However, Gandi wants you to use only real, legally verifiable names. What’s more, once you’ve created the handle the name cannot be changed.

Registry Registrant ID:JB15001-GANDI
Registrant Name:James Bradach
Registrant Organization:
Registrant Street: Whois Protege / Obfuscated whois
Registrant City:Paris
Registrant State/Province:
Registrant Postal Code:75013
Registrant Country:FR
Registrant Phone:+33.170377666
Registrant Phone Ext: 
Registrant Fax: +33.143730576
Registrant Fax Ext: 
Registrant Email: 8e0a8bec5a7804f629187afedef1dc03-2767601@contact.gandi.net

 

pairNIC
www.pairnic.com

While they’re one of the lesser known registrars, they do allow you to customize what pieces of information get hidden except for the name of each contact. You can select email, address, and phone separately when enabling privacy. I could see cases where this would be useful given that most services are all or nothing. You can also easily enter and change your contacts when necessary.

Registry Registrant ID: 1403547
Registrant Name: James Bradach
Registrant Organization: 
Registrant Street: c/o pairNIC.com Whois Privacy PO Box 42319
Registrant City: Pittsburgh
Registrant State/Province: PA
Registrant Postal Code: 15203
Registrant Country: US
Registrant Phone: +1.4123257437
Registrant Phone Ext: 
Registrant Fax: 
Registrant Fax Ext: 
Registrant Email: 127s4j784260@nojunkemailaddress.com

 

Hover
www.hover.com

This Tucows subsidiary’s service will mask all details for each contact, but the email handling is unique here. When testing the email provided, I received an automatic message directing me to contactprivacy.com in order to send a message to the contact. This would keep the automated verification messages from going through when attempting a transfer. Right now, it appears one would have to disable privacy prior to initiating the transfer in order to be successful.

Registry Registrant ID: 
Registrant Name: Contact Privacy Inc. Customer 0137897873
Registrant Organization: Contact Privacy Inc. Customer 0137897873
Registrant Street: 96 Mowat Ave
Registrant City: Toronto
Registrant State/Province: ON
Registrant Postal Code: M6K 3M1
Registrant Country: CA
Registrant Phone: +1.4165385457
Registrant Phone Ext: 
Registrant Fax: 
Registrant Fax Ext: 
Registrant Email: rudeotter.com@contactprivacy.com

If you’re curious, here’s the autoresponse from the private email:

This is an automated response from Contact Privacy. Please do not reply to this email message.

Thank you for sending an email to Contact Privacy.

If you are trying to reach the owner (registrant) of a domain name that is protected by the Contact Privacy  WHOIS Privacy Service, please go to http://www.contactprivacy.com and follow the instructions that are there.

That is the only way to send an electronic message to the owner of the domain name.

Please note that domain name owners are not obligated to respond to requests.

Thank you from Contact Privacy.

 

Edit 7/21/14:

Namecheap
www.namecheap.com

As their name implies, their registrations are fairly cheap but they charge extra for their WHOIS privacy service after the fist year. They let you replace their email with your own for specific contacts and you can randomize the their proxy email easily.

Registry Registrant ID: 
Registrant Name: WHOISGUARD PROTECTED
Registrant Organization: WHOISGUARD, INC.
Registrant Street: P.O. BOX 0823-03411
Registrant City: PANAMA
Registrant State/Province: PANAMA
Registrant Postal Code: NA
Registrant Country: PA
Registrant Phone: +507.8365503
Registrant Phone Ext: 
Registrant Fax: +51.17057182
Registrant Fax Ext:
Registrant Email: 4D5565BB81B34A0B86961F416E6C5D87.PROTECT@WHOISGUARD.COM

 

Edit 8/17/14:

Google Domains
domains.google.com

Google has been an accredited registrar for a number of TLDs for years but they just recently announced their domain registration service. Pricing varies, but registration comes with free email and URL forwarding as well as complete WHOIS privacy for non-.US domains.

Registry Registrant ID: WP-1
Registrant Name: On behalf of jamesbradach.com OWNER
Registrant Organization: c/o whoisproxy.com Ltd.
Registrant Street: Plaza Level,41 Shortland Street
Registrant City: Auckland
Registrant State/Province: 
Registrant Postal Code: 1010
Registrant Country: NZ
Registrant Phone: +64.48319528
Registrant Phone Ext: 
Registrant Fax: 
Registrant Fax Ext: 
Registrant Email: 66caae4f14bfd1a89650176dd74ba[...]@jamesbradach.com.whoisproxy.org
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