Why Google is a Registrar but doesn't sell registrations

Google is a domain registrar, but doesn't (yet) register domains on behalf of the public. The reason? Because if domain registrations were a profit line for Google, they would simply turn up the knob* for keywords in the domain, and viola --- increased quarterly profits.

* note: "turn up the knob" is SEO speak for "increase the importance of, for ranking purposes". You know, just like they have right now where every freakin cousin of your Uncle Bob can buy a keyword-laiden domain name, add a title and URL to match and rank.


Quote:Is it evil to sign a

Is it evil to sign a contract and then not honor your obligations?

It's only evil if Sergey says its evil.

What's scarey is that they can't be trusted with little things like running a whois service but have a manic fetish about getting their hands on your medical records.

Lol... why I like private registrations...

Because I get all sorts of commercial mail 'spamed' to my phys street address on my personal blog domains because businesses send commercial mail to me thinking I'm a business from those domains. Unfortunately, they were registered long before private registration was available.

SO what is Google publicly saying that they're doing with whois data/registration data?

lotso that's a good point

we should put pressure on ICANN to require Google to meet minimum registrar requirements.

If you are up to getting a petition up, I will sign it and send links from two or three PR5 weblogs.

Not that that's much but it's what I can do. If the rest of us pitch in, we can probably force the issue in pretty short order. Matt Cutt comes by here now and again.

Google should not be allowed to play by different rules than the other registrars. Especially since they've decided to dictate to us that the only legal paid links are AdSense.

Cabbagelooking, I am totally with you. We have a directory in the stable now (aquisition) and without detailed contact info, you are very unlikely to get in. Telephone number and some names are a bare minimum.

There is a reason that criminals like to play in the dark, John. I even think there's a few childrens games where you turn out the lights and people do bad things to you.

Back on track

I still wonder how google can get away with not complying with the required terms of being a registrar.


Google is NOT doing their part (where or where is their free interactive web page and port 43 Whois service?)

so why is google still a registrar?

I guess it goes to prove that those that are big and rich just don't have to follow the 'rules'...

Is it evil to sign a contract and then not honor your obligations?

I want to know with whom I'm dealing,

Read their 'about ut' or 'contact us' page - if you are not confident from that, then why would you want to deal with them anyway?

Cheap Shot.

What sorts of things are you doing, Ronsard, that you get frustrated by proxied domains so often ?

Cheap shot - Very cheap shot.
Fact is that I want to know with whom I'm dealing, and their accurate contact details especially if its a commercial site or I'm passing money or sensitive information.

You mis-characterized me,

You mis-characterized me, ronsard.

Corporate abuse has little to do with Michael Milken. He was convicted as a criminal for insider trading. The corporate abuses I refer to are perfectly legal. I have a particular dislike for externalization of environmental costs.

Your approach to building a "better and more just world" starting with small players who proxy their website whois, sounds "fishy" to me. A scam is a scam... and prosecutable. So prosecute the scammers. It's called "due diligence".

A witchhunt on proxied whois is just that - a witchhunt. And witchhunts are almost always cover for some underlying agenda, usually one fueled by big corporations (and churches, and political regimes). What's your agenda? I heard it mentioned at least once above... that proxied whois shouldn't really bother anyone as a concept, unless that person was doing something that was frustrated by the proxied whois.

What sorts of things are you doing, Ronsard, that you get frustrated by proxied domains so often ?

Mr. Turner has a point

...but does John Andrews still have something to hide?

As cabbagelooking pointed out, in many fields national legislation (or European) legislation will mandate correct information on the website itself. If that's the case, deciding to use correct whois information without a proxy becomes a lot less difficult step.

As to how to write about controversial issues and remain anonymous, that's a real problem Brian.

I'm not sure a proxy would help with that. The best you can do is fake whois information and taking the risk the domain will be confiscated at some point. There are people who know a lot more about anonymising a website/internet postings than I do here. My initial look at anonymization is that it is very, very difficult to do it thoroughly.

In any case, any website doing business of any kind should be forced to have a correct telephone number and address on the whois and the website. If they don't, there is a high probability that there is something fishy about what they are doing.

The point that big corporations sidestep legislation where they can doesn't mean that we should emulate their worst practices (i.e. all stock investors should emulate Michael Milken and friends). It means we should improve the legislation to clamp down on the transgressions of the large corporations - and that associations like Fair Trade (against sweatshops) should hound them with negative publicity where legislation can't get them.

So no, John Andrews, I'm not a libertarian. You can carry on rereading Lord of the Flies and Ayn Rand - while some of us will carry on working towards a better and more just world.

And getting rid of anonymity - at the very least in commercial websites - is one small step towards scam disposal.

precedent for proxy ownership

There is plenty of precendent for proxy ownership in English based common law which applies to most of the western world. One of its forms is trusteeship.

BTW, Google may be one of the biggest MFA networks of all. To wit:

netcraft.com wrote:
With this month's survey, Netcraft has begun tracking Google's custom web server software known as GFE (Google Front End), which is currently found on 2.7 million hostnames, or 2.3% of all sites. GFE is the server found on Blogger sites at blogspot.com, while Google uses GWS (Google Web Server) on some other services, although none with the volume of hostnames seen at Blogger.

Ooh! Well said massa

The implication that capitalism = freedom in the previous statement could well be disputed.

Well it's hard to argue with

>Well it's hard to argue with someone who disagrees with the right to privacy, capitalism, and well.....freedom.<

Maybe not so much hard as just pointless.

Quote: If you can't put your

If you can't put your accurate contact info in the whois, then you shouldn't be allowed to own domains. Capitalism, the right to privacy, the right to cloak - nonsense here. We are just enabling illegal and unethical conduct in what is a public space (the internet).

By far the most absurd thing I've ever heard. Privacy protection goes well beyond protecting criminals. I'd wager that most of the sites under privacy protection are law abiding citizens who have reasons for not wanting their personal information live. What if you write a blog about controversial issues and don't want to be harassed by nutjobs? What if you're a woman who chooses not to be open to stalkers? What if you have a family and young children and choose not to have your home address publicly available to every human being with an internet connection?

I don't run any illegal sites, yet I use proxy services because I don't want my information made public. I don't want to be sent a ton of junk mail (both online and offline), I don't want sales calls being made to my phone, and I don't want a corporation like Google to use information like that against me. I don't give out my information to anyone who asks me offline, so why would I do it online?

As for illegal sites, proxy services are hardly the ultimate line of protection. Most of them will give up the information without a fight. And if you are breaking the law in the first place, why would you have real whois information in there? It seems that your suggestion only benefits those who are nosey or looking to abuse the whois system.

Capitalism, the right to privacy, the right to cloak - nonsense here.

Well it's hard to argue with someone who disagrees with the right to privacy, capitalism, and well.....freedom.


Does anyone really believe that putting up names and address on web sites are going to stop or even slow down fraud on the www?

Mr. L. Lots0
1313 Mocking Bird Lane
Penche, Pendejo 90210

EC eCommerce regulations

European Law - Minimum information to be provided on a commercial website includes...
The name of the service provider must be given somewhere easily accessible on the site.
The email address of the service provider must be given.
The geographic address of the service provider must be given.

How many of us are already criminals?

Criminal Offence

I'm involved in an industry in the UK that’s just been regulated and it’s now a criminal offence not to place the owners name and address on the website. I work from home and it greatly displeased me to have to do it however the fall out has been interesting with a number of websites coming up for sale, a number which just closed down and a lot, an awful lot that have ignored the legislation and must be looking at serious fines or worse in the near future. It does, at first sight appear to have cleared out not only the small timers who didn’t want to pay the registration fee but also quite a bit of dross and it will probably clear out a lot more in the near future. The cowboys quite simply now have no where to hide.
Whilst I was against public disclosure I'm now for it as I see that the less savoury elements have either cleaned up their act or given up completely.

There's plenty in this

There's plenty in this arguement that smells funny, but it's the accusations that bother me. Someone seems to believe that "we" are hiding "dubious things" based on evidence of proxied registration and that's offensive.

Ronsard I find you coming across as a narrow-minded, righteous and opinionated individual who speaks in an authoritative tone while saying things that are not factual, not based in truth, and which are misleading. Please prove me wrong.

I think your reference to "large entities" and "law abiding citizens" is misplaced. There is more abuse delivered by "large entities" than anything else, and those "law abiding citizens" you reference are most probably ignorant, compliant victims that enable the abuse (and create a market for it). Let's not confused laws with your own opinions or wishes. There is no law that prohibits the use of privacy proxies.

Feel free to try again to make a case, but it would be more civil of you to refrain from accusations. They portay you as prejudiced, and border on bigotry.


...anybody else getting sick of Private whois

I have been thinking about this since last night.... Why would anyone get sick of private whois info?

The only people I can think of that would get tired of private whois data are people that abuse the whois system in the first place.

Not accusing you of anything ronsard, but for the life of me I can't figure out why someone would be accessing the whois data so much that they get sick of private registration data...

Hey Matt... I am Still looking for that google interactive web page and a port 43 Whois service, but no luck. So what is the deal? Google sign the same ICANN contract as the other Registrars or not?



... everyone who has a website does not have it for the intent of doing business. My mom has a domain for family stuff and I told her to use the proxy service to avoid getting contacted by domain renewal scammers and whoever else decided they wanted to look up her info via whois info.

Dubious intent

>If you gents would stop being so disingenuous and admit, yes I do some dubious things and I like to hide that from my customers

Since I work out of my house and don't have a physical office I don't thinking "hiding" the address of my residence is disingenuous or dubious. When I enter into a business relationship I don't hide that fact, but I don't think it's especially smart to leave the physical address open to every person who wants to know what it is.

Just because some people lose control and stab each other with knives every year doesn't mean we should remove every sharp object from society.

John and Graywolf

Yes as a matter of fact it is better than a proxy service.

The real address of the company is in Slovakia. Offices, legal jurisdiction, the works.

Proxy services have no place in whois data.

There's a lot of dirt hiding behind proxies.

Whether it's yours or someone else's isn't the concern. The issue is with allowing effectively empty whois.

For the moment, the crooked and criminal seem to be winning the web.

But I'm not discouraged. It won't go on indefinitely. At some point, there will be enough larger legal entities on the internet, along with law abiding citizens, who've been ripped off by some of the invisible con men, that we will just call an effective halt to the free for all.

I don't think that moment is too far off.

If you gents would stop being so disingenuous and admit, yes I do some dubious things and I like to hide that from my customers, my friends and my neighbours (leaving out Google) - the hypocrisy barometer would fall a bit.

Just don't expect to be able to carry on like this indefinitely.

They are there to snoop

They are there to snoop google offer nothing else.

Calling Mr. Cutts...

Mr. Cutts, just where is googles interactive web page and port 43 Whois service located at?

I just know google would not enter into a contract and then ignore key parts of it...

C'mon be real

Hey Ronsard c'mon let's not be naive. Lots of people start and run small businesses out of their houses. Using a proxy service to hide a home address isn't a nefarious cloak and dagger act.

A proxy service is a tool just like a hammer, and like all tools it's up to you to decide if you want to build something useful or run around destroying things.

@ronsard: About your last

@ronsard: About your last comment..... um... no.

Last I looked proxy services include a contact method. It's called "e-mail" and the way it works is you send a message, and they route it to the registered owner. Kinda like the post office, a registered agent, or a lawyer.

As for separate telephone numbers and email addresses, I don't understand your point. Virtual phone numbers are much better than proxy services for "cloak and dagger stuff" these days. Some are truly anonmous (unlike a proxy service).

Your own website, for example says the firm is in Slovakia, with an office address and phone number in Slovakia, but the whois data on the domain uses a Dreamhost email alias (proxy) and the registered address is in British Columbia, Canada. Is that better than an email address and registration with a proxy service?

No it's hiding

A legitimate business has contact information they can share. If they can't share it, they should be out of business.

The cloak and dagger crap is just encouragement for criminality and bad behaviour. A lot of the members on this site are involved in borderline stuff so naturally the more proxies the better.

Sorry to drop reality into your free-for-all online universe where anything goes, John.

Get a separate telephonen line for the whois. Get a separate email address. It's a lot cheaper than proxies.

Ronsard your post is

Ronsard your post is extremely narrow-minded:

If you can't put your accurate contact info in the whois, then you shouldn't be allowed to own domains. Capitalism, the right to privacy, the right to cloak - nonsense here. We are just enabling illegal and unethical conduct in what is a public space (the internet).

I understand that your personal perspective may not include all of the realities of Internet commerce, but it would be more helpful if you recognized that might be true.

A proxy is an abstraction and has been used in business since the there has been law. It's simply a layer of paperwork, and if someone says a proxy service is enabling illegal and unethical conduct, that just says that person is too lazy to play by the rules, and griping about it.

It is easy to get past a proxy service. But it will cost you a nickel, and that is the way it should be, because every time some lazy "I want to bother you for my own personal reasons" inquisitor follows an openly pubic whois contact and bothers me, it costs me a nickel, too.

Ronsard, I agree

I also use specific, set-aside email addresses for whois -- but yours is a good idea to run it through a spam-checker.

And I suppose that, even if registrars would allow masking of the email address that appears online, it would get spammed anyway.

Anti whois spam suggestions

Diane what I've been doing for a few years now is reserving two or three email addresses for domain registration. They go to a single mailbox and go through heavy filtering before they get to me. They have to be checked (renewal notices) but I've been doing my renewal checks more via login lately than via email.

It's even time to move to a whois based spreadsheet (registerfly - before they went bad - and dotster have both dropped the ball for me on incorrect renewal dates, putting my domains at risk).

Well, I wouldn't mind ...

I don't use private whois features, and think that correct, visible contact information is a credibility issue.

But I sure would love to be able to mask my email address. Why? Because when your email address is displayed in a domain registration, it *will* get spammed to death.

That's about as far as I'd go with privacy in whois information.

A bit OT but is anybody else getting sick of Private whois

Frankly I don't think people should be allowed to cloak registrations at all.

And all those people who lost domains (I was almost one of them) behind registerfly privacy (and also got blamed by a client for associating their banking site with porn due Alexa's related sites feature - which runs off of whois data - putting three porn sites as most closely related) have hopefully learned a lesson about domain proxy services.

Google needed to become a registrar to have a chance of getting accurate whois information.

If you can't put your accurate contact info in the whois, then you shouldn't be allowed to own domains. Capitalism, the right to privacy, the right to cloak - nonsense here. We are just enabling illegal and unethical conduct in what is a public space (the internet).

They don't register and they

They don't register and they don't comply with the Registrar Accreditation Agreement.

3.3.1 At its expense, Registrar shall provide an interactive web page and a port 43 Whois service providing free public query-based access to up-to-date (i.e., updated at least daily) data concerning all active Registered Names sponsored by Registrar for each TLD in which it is accredited. The data accessible shall consist of elements that are designated from time to time according to an ICANN adopted specification or policy.


I agree with hardball. If google does not seriously sell domain names they should not be a registrar.

Using their position as a registrar only to data mine the registration information is in my opinion unethical.

They shouldn't be an

They shouldn't be an accredited registrar. Just another example of googles "rules don't apply to us" ethic. They register nothing, offer no useful service and simply use the data for their own purposes.

icann should be taken to task for that relationship.