In a notice emailed to users this morning, GoDaddy has confirmed that starting January 25, 2018 First Name, Last Name, Email, and Phone Number will no longer be available to unauthorized data collection services which connect to GoDaddy servers via automated means. The operative word here is “automated” as (unprotected) contact info will remain available publicly via non-automated means.
When you register a domain name (website), your Registry (e.g. GoDaddy) collects and publishes your registration contact information in a record called a WHOIS record. Those records reside on WHOIS Servers and companies whose primary business is domain owner data will hook up to those servers and request the contact details associated with your domain and others (in bulk). If successful, the contact data is usually resold to a variety of companies to use to send offers for services which may interest you.
Spammers (the reason why we can’t have nice things)
Unfortunately, a lot of that data ends up in the hands of spammers and scammers, who use your info to craft customized spam email and telephone solicitations. It’s this “flood of spam that can occur when you register a domain without privacy services” which GoDaddy is hoping to cut down by blocking unauthorized servers from connecting and requesting such data in an automated fashion.
Full Domain Privacy
GoDaddy’s move only protects your info from automated bulk data requests. If a person visits the GoDaddy website directly, they can still request contact info for any domain on a one-by-one basis. The only way to mask all of your contact info from the public (for a GoDaddy registered domain name) is to pay for their Domain Privacy service.
You can opt-out
Do you want the automated services to have your contact info? You can opt-out a variety of ways. Click here for more info.
What does GoDaddy get out of this?
GoDaddy claims their move is to “…protect your info and reduce chances of spammers getting ahold of your data”. They also mentioned a “flood of spam” that occurs when a domain is registered, but it’s not clear how that flood or the use of domain registration data affects GD.
At any rate, by cutting those queries that are not pre-approved, they will definitely reduce traffic to their WHOIS servers and also save computing power. Another potential benefit could be making queries by competitors more difficult, a possible competitive advantage. This seems unlikely, but there was a hint of possible anti-competitive action by GoDaddy in 2011 when the company was accused by competitor NameCheap of “…returning incomplete WHOIS information to NameCheap, delaying the transfer process” for customers moving from GoDaddy to NameCheap.