Under ICANN rules, you must have valid personal contact information that anyone can access with any domain name you own, in case anyone needs to contact you regarding your domain name or your website. It is important you supply valid and accurate contact information - domain registrars are required to act if any domain owner is known to be providing false contact information on any domain name which they own. This "personal information" is called WHOIS contact information. Anyone can access WHOIS information for any domain name, including those that may use the WHOIS database to send unsolicited spam e-mail and mail to others.
While you can hide your personal information for certain country-code top-level domains (such as any individual which owns a .uk domain name), these exemptions do not apply to generic top-level domains (gTLDs) like .com, .net and .info. When you own any of these domains, you must always have publicly-available WHOIS contact information and it must always accurately display the contact information of the person who owns the domain name.
So how can I protect my privacy? Does it mean I cannot own a domain name if I am concerned about my privacy?
Fortunately, you can mask your personal information by buying Domain ID Protection when you purchase your domain name — this service may also be referred to as WHOIS Privacy Protection. Domain ID Protection works by changing the legal owner of the domain name to the provider of a Domain ID Protection service, whereby both complying with ICANN rules and the need to protect your privacy. The Domain ID Protection service provider will never take over your domain name even though they would be considered the legal owner of the domain name. The service provider merely acts as an intermediary.
What if someone needs to contact me from the WHOIS contact information?
When you register a domain name, your contact information will be known to the Domain ID Protection service provider and any communications they receive will be forwarded to you. If it is an e-mail, it will be forwarded to the e-mail address which they have on record from you. If it is a fax or letter, they will forward the letter to your place of residence.
How much does Domain ID Protection cost?
Domain ID Protection costs just £5 per year which is in addition to the renewal fee of your domain name. When you purchase Domain ID Protection, it will apply to your domain name for one year. After which, you can renew your protection as prompted or leave it to expire which means the details available in a WHOIS lookup will return your contact information instead of the contact details of the service provider.