Copyright 2005 Richard Keir
The internet is a wonderful thing, except for a few small details. When you register your first domain name, you get your introduction to one of them. There's a lot of information they want. Your name, your email address, your physical address, your phone number. For each of 4 separate categories, and Registrant, Admin and Technical categories are publicly available (for almost all TLDs - Top Level Domains, with possible exception of .ws - Western Samoa).
Email addresses, which must be valid, phone numbers and physical addresses which also must be valid. I personally think it's both absurd and dangerous to make this information so easily available. Once again right to privacy of law-abiding individuals is being abridged supposedly to help catch lawbreakers. Since this information would be provided under a court order, making it publicly available just invites abuse.
Spammers, scammers, stalkers and idle whacko can easily get this information. And it's a nice start on identity theft, too. However, for most people, most likely result is an increase in amount of spam you get. But, much worse can and has happened.
So what solutions are there? Basically there two ways to protect your privacy if you are a private individual without access to a legal entity such as a company to own domain name (note that if it is a company, you must provide accurate information. This only moves problem to a slightly less personal level).
First you could lie. No, that's not one of ways. Unwise and illegal too, and you are a law-abiding type, right? So, first, a proxy registration is one alternative.
Essentially you make a binding legal agreement with a company which will register domain name as if they owned it and then provide their own information to meet requirements. For each domain, they will set-up a special email which they will monitor and forward to you, usually after spam filtering, if you want them to.
They, of course, retain your data and will also monitor physical mail. You will be notified of first class mail which appears to or could be legal documents or if registered or couriered mail arrives. They will, for a fee, ship such to you, if you agree and pay. Generally such items would be sent by courier. Phone callers will be directed to use email or physical address shown in WhoIs record
Of course, under subpoena or other specified conditions they will provide your details. You will have full rights as owner - as long as you behave and don't violate agreement.