We know who you are and what domains you own

Search domainsAn interesting but ultimately scary tool was released this week which you may not all know about, yet.

Registrant Search by Jay Westerdal allows anyone to search for a person or using personal information and get a report on all domains they own dating back to 2000.

DomainTools has the most extensive whois database on the internet containing millions of full whois records dating back to the year 2000. Registrant Search allows anyone to search through this massive whois database using a registrant name, email address, physical address, or phone number to return a list of domains that have that search term in it.

Scary stuff, obviously if you have privacy protection on your domains then that would prevent such lookups, the service is costly but if someone were investigating you they could certainly get a fair amount of detail on your online activities, big brother it appears is watching you.

At the very least as Jay is benefiting by selling personal data so I would like to see an unsubscribe facility so that you could opt out of having your name included in the search data – that would make the whole concept sit better with me, this tool can certainly be used for both good and bad.

Without parting with any money you can have a play around and get a grasp on how busy some people are out there by doing searches and getting data back data as to how many domains they have in their name.

Shoemoney (Jeremy Schoemaker) brings back a list of 116 domains
SEOmoz show up with 44 domains
John Chow has 37 different domain names in his name
Dave Naylor (Bronco Ltd) have 559 domain names
Greg Boser (WebGuerrilla) shows 96 domains
Aaron Wall has 115 domains
Graywolf stretches out in the lead with an amazing 605 domains

Things really step up a gear if you start looking at domainers like
Michael Gilmour who brings back 1401 results or Rich Schwartz who almost wins with 10,754

Using the Microsoft contact email listed for Microsoft.com brings back a staggering 44,776 domain names leaving Ebay well behind with a paltry 10,661.

Now many have other companies etc so the above is just a snapshot but it shows you a pretty quick look into what people are up to. You can search by email addresses so for Matt Cutts his email address brings back 3 domain names. I think most people listed above wouldn’t be too happy about the service and I’d tend to agree. Collating and selling this kind of information would be like Google selling all our search data.

The next time you go for a job interview that background check may include your domain names in the future. How do you view this new service?

About Scott Jones

Scott hails from the north east of Scotland and started earning online at the end of 2000 building websites for local businesses during which time he won an award from Lord Alan Sugar for Excellence in Enterprise. After having quite a bit of success with domaining Scott mainly runs educational evergreen websites which generate over 3 million visitors per month but is always on the lookout for a fresh thinking out of the box way to turn a buck. Follow on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Scary indeed, I wonder how long it will be before the bigger affiliates might start to look at legal proceedings as surely they could claim its damaging their business.

  2. This is bad and would prompt more and more people to have Whois guards on their domains.

    • I am guessing it would be too late to go for a whois guard now as that tool searches cached and old records. It seems if you are in there then you are staying unless they offer an opt out.

  3. WOW that’s mad

    I am quite happy with my 5 domains 😀

    but 44K wow thats way too much

    Apparently they have record for 12 domains I owned at out point :S I even forgot about them

  4. I think it’s a little scary for anyone who may be running MFA sites. However, I don’t really care if people find all of my legitimate sites, maybe they’ll even like a couple of them 🙂

  5. Nice find. I’m struggling to think of a morally legitimate use of the tool.

    • I did read somewhere that a domain owner could find domains they owned and had forgotten about but that seems a bit of a far reach as far as use for good, more likely to be used by lawyers and competitors imo.

  6. So I’ve been trying to find out some information on some friends and the sites they own. It looks like you’ll have to buy every report. I don’t like that. It will only be a matter of time before a free version comes out.

    Maybe I should make one…

  7. I think this falls in the same category as land ownership. In many US states the laws allow anyone to go to the courthouse and see who owns the property, some do not however, and for those this could have legal ramifications. I am sure there are some countries in the world were the property owners are protected, and for them this site could be a serious issue as well. The only benefit I can think of so far is if someone likes one of your sites, they can find others you own – seems to me you would be linking them together already if you wanted it known. Seems the data is a little dated, not all of mine were being counted yet 🙂

    Scary when you can start looking up people you know and find out the domains they own, not quite right.

  8. I own somewhere between 200-300 domains, so I think the math is a little off somewhere, unless someone is giving me a gift. 🙂

    I think the private reg I use is crediting me with a lot of other domains who use a similar service and aren’t mine.

  9. That is a very interesting tool. I never realized people could own that many domains.

  10. I don’t have any problem with it, because this is publicly available information. It would be different if they were selling private info, but they’re not. Almost seems to me like having a problem with the telephone company printing all the phone numbers in a big book where you could look up people by their name.

  11. For every great thing the internet gives us it takes some back with every application like this.

    Someone wrote a post about all the personal data we freely give out on our blogs that a sleazy personal injury lawyer could use against us and it made me think. This service bothers me even more.

  12. There was a snippet in the resent Oddity Software newsletter indicating that they will be selling this kind of data (historical WHOIS contact data) next month as well. So I suppose you will see these types of sites popping up a lot more frequently.

  13. John parry says:

    Unbelievable. How on earth can this be legal, do these companies have any morals at all? We have to give our correct details we are told, because it is a legal requirement, but what about our rights to privacy? How can a company have the right to sell data collected and profit from it? God, this makes me mad as a cut snake!

  14. Webjourneyman says:

    Why do owners of domain names have to be listed anywhere?
    It offers no protection against illegal activity since those set on crime will enter false info to begin with.
    However it leaves new and unsuspecting domain owners at a risk.
    I know from one blog I read that the owner is traveling, in the whois records I see his home address, any burglar can do the same.
    So imagine what a more sophisticated criminal like f.eks. identity thieves and con artists could do?

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