This whole “can Google see past/around private domain registrations” thing that came out of the Interactive SERP Site Review session at PubCon Vegas has been bothering me a little, not because I’m worried (because I’m not, okay? I’m not). But in the interest of furthering the academic discourse, I decided to do a little research.
I im’d a friend of mine who used to work for Moniker and asked if he had access to, or if anyone from the registrar side had access to, the WHOIS info on private domain registrations. His reply was that “only registrars have access to the private domain registration information, but only for those domains they hold/manage”.
So, Google, although a registrar, does not have access to anyone’s private WHOIS info because Google doesn’t manage or handle registrations for the general public.
To confirm this, I also read ICANN’s “Preliminary Task Force Report on Whois Services” issued on 22 November 2006. If you look under Summary of task force discussion (including proposals for access to data) you’ll see the following:
There are two different classes of requests for registration information.
1) Requests for information about registrations that are managed through a private registration or registration proxy service (a “type 1″ request)
2) Requests for information for regular, non-proxy/non-private registrations. (a “type 2″ request)
These requests are typically dealt with differently by registrars.
Requests are typically taken in by a single point of contact at a registrar which liaises with or escalates to the registrars legal department or staff.
There’s other information in the report, but that’s the part that I think is the most clear. It confirms what my contact said, which is that registrars have access to the registration data for private registrations, but only for the domains they manage.
So, Google cannot see past private registration protection. That being said, it doesn’t mean webmasters are not being profiled. It just means they aren’t using special, non-public information to build the profiles. (See comments to my previous post)
Just an update… I know I’ll sleep better tonight. ;)