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As above - if I register a domain name, will my postal address become "googleable" via WHOIS by someone that doesn't know what the domain name is? (Say I have a fairly distinctive first and last name)

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up vote 30 down vote accepted

Yes. There are numerous web sites which present 'whois' information, and they are indexed by Google. For example, this search:

"Chen, William" whois

Leads to results like this:

MazdaMedia.com WHOIS, DNS, & Domain Info - DomainTools

Which contain the full WHOIS record as well as other information.

Of course, most registrars offer "private registration" services (for a fee, of course) where the details they release are anonymized - instead of your email, they generate a random email address and forward all mail for that address to you, and your name is redacted. Here's an example of a domain that's protected in this manner:

Play4kd.com WHOIS, DNS, & Domain Info - DomainTools

Registry Registrant ID: 
Registrant Name: WHOISGUARD PROTECTED
Registrant Organization: WHOISGUARD, INC.
Registrant Street: P.O. BOX 0823-03411
Registrant City: PANAMA
Registrant State/Province: PANAMA
Registrant Postal Code: 00000
Registrant Country: PA
Registrant Phone: +507.8365503
Registrant Phone Ext: 
Registrant Fax: +51.17057182
Registrant Fax Ext:
Registrant Email: 6B010429CE9E421782FA4699C28B9BB6.PROTECT@WHOISGUARD.COM

(If you are reading this after February, 2017, there's no guarantee the link will continue to reflect this protection ).

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1  
I'd like to add that while using "private registration" it can look really bad. It's much better to just let your details be out there. It shows that you are taking a real responsibility for your domain, and doesn't release any information that can't already be found on current business registries, yellow pages, and such, and provides a direct path for others to contact you should they need to. – coteyr Mar 7 at 16:36
19  
@coteyr I think a lot of that depends on if it is a personal site or a business site. There is no need for someone to show up at my house if I'm blogging about programming, but there is a real use case for a business to be open with contact information. – Erik Mar 7 at 16:56
    
I can agree with that. – coteyr Mar 7 at 17:05
2  
Thanks, it would be a personal site, and actually I'm happy for visitors/users of the site to be able to see my info, but would rather not have my info visible to someone searching for me for non-domain-related reasons, for privacy. – user47059 Mar 7 at 18:37

Yes it does.

As already mentioned, private registration is an option. In fact, on certain domains such as .eu and .fr, private registration is enforced if the registrant is an individual, as opposed to a company. This comes at no extra cost.

For other domains, it is optional and implemented by the registrar. It is not true that all registrars charge for this service. There is at least one major French registrar which doesn't.

Your question implies that you are registering as an individual. If registering as a company, different rules apply. In general, the address that you enter in WHOIS will be visible and searchable, as will be the name of the company.

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