The Numbers Behind Whois Privacy

| November 16, 2012

Whois Privacy is an important topic here at DomainTools.  After all, a primary use of our Whois History product is to get behind Whois Privacy if possible.  Just this week Brian Krebs wrote an interesting blog post that does a good job of showing the power of DomainTools’ Whois History.

Whois is also a prevailing topic seemingly every year at ICANN Conferences, and no debate about Whois data is complete without also discussing the benefits and costs of allowing domain owners to utilize Whois proxy services in order to shield their domain ownership from the public eye.

With the recent celebrity of Nate Silver, data is now in vogue more than ever.  Data, assuming it is accurate, is fact not opinion.  Data helps inform qualitative conversations, can lend momentum to important decisioning processes, and can uncover unknown information in unique ways.  Take the first list in this article, below:  That 94% number shocked me so I pulled up the homepage and sure enough, every domain at gets free privacy protection.  Never knew that!   So in the spirit of featuring more of our DomainTools data on this blog, we offer some insights below on the proliferation of whois privacy at the registrar and TLD levels.

It must be noted upfront that, due to the imperfect nature of both Whois data and privacy identifiers, no data set in this arena can be 100% accurate. Specifically we identify these caveats with the data:

  • DomainTools does not have Whois records on all registered domains worldwide.
  • We only focused on privacy services with over 1,000 domains under management.
  • ccTLD data skews the numbers in cases such as .de, .es, and .eu where registrant data is not provisioned publicly.

Now to the data:

  • DomainTools identified 130 different privacy services across almost 225 million unique domain name Whois records.
  • Almost 32 million domains were identified as private, or about 15% of the total population we reviewed.




Privacy Concentration for Registrars with between 100K and 1MM Domains Under Management:
1. PTY LTD  94%
2.  April Sea Information Technology Corporation 93%
3.  New Dream Network (DreamHost) LLC  91%
4.  Brandon Gray Internet Services (  80%
5.  Bargin Register 76%
6.  BigRock Solutions pvt LTD  47%
7.  Cloud Group Limited 47%
8.  Netart Registrar Sp. z.o.o. 47%
9.  Net Earth One (Net Earth)  43%
10.  FBS Inc.  43%

Privacy Concentration for Registrars with over 1MM Domains Under Management:
1.  GMO Internet (  51%
2. pty LTD 48%
3.  PDR (  37%
4.  DomainSite  33%
5.  Moniker Online Services  26%
6.  25%
7.  Enom  25%
8.  Network Solutions  23%
9.  Tucows  22%
10. GoDaddy  21%

Privacy Concentration for TLDs with over 1MM Domains in DNS:
1. INFO  28%
2.  CN  20%*
3.  ORG  20%
4. COM  19%
5.  NET  19%
6.  BIZ  18%
7. MOBI  17%
8.  CO  17%
9.  JP 12%
10  IN 1%

* Nearly all the ‘private’ domains in .CN are associated with one registrar and privacy provider, and there are indications of underlying domain tasting on .CN as well.  Absent this registrar, privacy on .CN is virtually nil.


We’re putting this new data to work at DomainTools as well.  Our Whois History product uses color scheming to let users more easily identify privacy records in the reams of historical Whois records we have on file.  The work our R&D team has done to update our privacy detection is going into production shortly, making related tools all that more accurate.  Look for a redesign of our Whois History product coming soon!


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Category: Domain Tools Updates, Private Registration, Proxy Whois, Whois

About the Author ()

Tim Chen is a proven business development and operational executive, having worked in and around Internet and software companies for over 15 years. Tim has been the CEO of DomainTools for four years, appointed during the May 2009 spin out of DomainTools from Thought Convergence, Inc. (TCI). Before joining DomainTools, Tim spent a year as TCI's Vice President of Corporate Development and 2.5 years leading the domain acquisition efforts for Internet REIT, one of the first venture funded domain investment companies. Tim started in the domain world in 2005 by incubating new business ideas with Mark Pincus (Founder of Zynga) and a small team of engineers in San Francisco. Prior to focusing on the domain and DNS communities, Tim spent seven years in business development executive roles with Internet and software companies in the Bay Area, and four years in the Corporate Finance group at J.P. Morgan in New York. Originally from Rochester, New York, Tim is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Haverford College, has an MBA from Stanford University, and sits on the board of, an automated retirement planning service.

Comments (3)

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  1. yesshop27_3224 says:

    Can Google see behind whois privacy? AllWhois The grandfather of databases; Eamnesia Looks for com, org, net AND many … Be sure not to put in “www” when looking for who is behind a site.

    DB Mall