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I just received an email from a customer, telling me they heard a rumour that my site wasn't legit and that it was run out of Panama. Noticeably upset, they asked me to explain...

Upon further investigation, I discovered the following:

  • My site is registered and hosted by NameCheap Inc, which is a US company
  • When I acquired the domain I clicked the box to use their "WhoisGuard" privacy protection service so that my personal information would not be revealed
  • WhoisGuard however, is a Panama company...
  • Therefore, the official Whois database for my domain says Panama.

I contacted NameCheap and they explained that as long as I want to use their privacy protection service, it will say Panama and they have no alternative to that.

So my question is, is there a different registrar that provides a US-based privacy protection service, using a US-based entry in the Whois database?

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    Clarification: hosting providers don't provide domain privacy - registrars do. So, you would only need to switch registrars in order to use a U.S.-based domain privacy service, and point DNS to NameCheap if you wish to keep them as the web host. – WebElaine Jun 21 '18 at 15:45
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    For what it's worth, Google Domains' privacy guard uses a Toronto, CA address. If your clients are that worried about your identity, it might make sense to remove privacy protection and list either your real address or a PO box. – WebElaine Jun 21 '18 at 15:51
  • @WebElaine Thank you for pointing out the difference regarding hosting providers vs registrars. As far I as understand it, NameCheap is both a registrar and a hosting provider. I have updated the question. – Ben Jun 21 '18 at 15:55
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    @WebElaine clarification: any company could provide domain privacy, there is almost nothing technical to it. It may make (business) sense for registrars to do it by themselves but a customer could as well use any other independent company for the same result. Big corporations often use their attorneys details in whois... – Patrick Mevzek Jun 21 '18 at 15:56
  • "Noticeably upset, they asked me to explain" Explain to them that a domain is not a website, and that whatever is displayed in whois has no technical consequences on where the website is physically hosted (which is less and less a real question anyway with cloud services spanning continents) nor where is the underlying company registered. A Panana company could as well host a website in US with a whois showing US addresses, and that gives no more (and no less) guarantees that the business is legit by itself. In short: it is not whois content that determinate if a business is legit or not. – Patrick Mevzek Jun 21 '18 at 15:59
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The privacy address that we (Dynadot) use is located in the United States. California actually. As noted by previous posters, you would need to move your domain to a new Registrar if you want to use a different privacy provider.

Before GDPR, I would say that a business should probably have their address on the Whois record. However, since all contact information is obscured, I'm not sure it matters much and I think your customers complaint is much ado about nothing.

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