Free access to the WHOIS could soon belong to the past

Known to allow anyone to obtain a minimum of information about a domain name and its owner, the WHOIS (for “who is”, “is” in French) is in danger. The EWG, a group of experts of ICANN, the US company that assigns domain names, has indeed been instructed to consider replacement of the WHOIS. And free access (and free?) Is in danger if the recommendations of this group were to be followed.

“The current model of the WHOIS should be abandoned”

Reflexively used by many companies and individuals wishing to do a quick search on a domain name WHOIS is a handy tool. Whether it is the creation and expiration dates of the domain name, information about the web host, the name of the person or company that owns the domain name, or address even its number phone, the WHOIS is a must for many users. But the present system, free, and maybe even free, could change.

The EWG, a group of experts formed by the CEO of ICANN itself, was in fact responsible for reviewing the WHOIS aging system to better adapt to the changing industry and the arrival of hundreds of different TLD. The group therefore “clean slate” of the past while seeking what the data requirements on domain names. After questioning many actors linked to the sector, the EWG has “concluded that the current model of the WHOIS, which gives each user a public and anonymous access to the data (often imprecise) domain names should be abandoned.”

“Certain data accessible only to authenticated seekers”

An abandon that would sound like a real slap if it were to be applied, especially as the authors of the study indicate that they recommend “a paradigm shift in which the TLD data will be collected, validated and disseminated for authorized purposes only with some data accessible only to authenticated seekers, who are then responsible for the proper use “.


These recommendations are still lacking details, however, the group says it has not yet completed its deliberations and is waiting for public feedback by 12 August. We must therefore expect new recommendations in the coming months.

Yet if the recommendations of the EWG were to be followed, critical in controlling the ICANN web would do more vivid. Certainly, in recent years, the organization has tried to be less dependent on the US, but the problem remains. On the other hand, these changes will surely satisfy WHOIS companies who appreciate little that their information is visible to all in a single click.

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Icann advanced Whois inaccuracies

A survey commissioned by Icann, shows the limits of the Whois service (Who is) used to check the availability of Internet domain names.

Over three-quarters of registered Internet domain names are incomplete, invalid or identified under a false name. Furthermore, it is not possible to recover 22% of website owners. This is shown by a survey conducted by the University of Chicago at the request of ICANN (ICANN), the Internet regulator, to check the accuracy of the results of the Whois service (pronounced ‘Who is?) used to trace the domain names and ensuring their availability. This report details a number of problems faced by organizations responsible for managing domain names of a TLD or IP addresses for a specific region (the registries).

The survey reveals that only 23% of the names and addresses are quite accurate, ie that they meet the criteria determined by the domain name management organization. 8% did not provide detailed information or are manifestly false name, and 14% are simply unreachable. Doug Brent, CEO of ICANN, this study is the first serious attempt to verify the accuracy of Whois service. “Domain Name Registration is worldwide.

Determine its accuracy is more than just assessing the validity of a name and an address. The survey checked the link between the declarant and the name / address that identifies it. In other words, it showed that it was possible to have a perfectly valid name and address, without having the certainty that they corresponded to the domain name registrant. »

Known issues but difficult answers

The Internet regulator, which has already stated its concern about the accuracy of Whois service, worked to regularly inform registrars of domain names (registrars) of misstatements. He also increased the number of its resources in this area. But Doug Brent said that at present, ICANN could not go further. “Any solution to improve the accuracy of Whois is closely related to the powers of ICANN, which today can not do anything but to investigate complaints of these inaccuracies,” he has and admitted. “Finding answers to this seemingly simple problem is, for years, a challenge to the ICANN community.

At the same time, too, solutions are considered by the defenders of intellectual property, legislators, experts confidentiality of private life and those using non-Latin alphabets, often with different objectives. “But things could soon change. Indeed, Doug Brent believes that the publication of the study will spark more debate on this subject. He also stressed that the commitments of ICANN alongside the US Department of Commerce, included a strengthening of the Whois service on policy and stated that it considered the periodic review of progress in this area as part essential.

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