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)
Yes. There are numerous web sites which present 'whois' information, and they are indexed by Google. For example, this search:
Leads to results like this:
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:
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 ).
Yes it does.
As already mentioned, private registration is an option. In fact, on certain domains such as
.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.