What is Whois Information and Why is it Valuable?

Whois is a commonly used Internet registration list that identifies the owner of a domain and how to contact them. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) regulates the registration and ownership of domain names. Whois records have proven to be extremely useful and have become an important resource for maintaining the integrity of the domain name registration and website ownership process.
What does a Whois record contain?
A Whois record contains all the contact information associated with the person, group or company registering a particular domain name. In general, each Whois record contains information such as the name and contact information of the registrant (the owner of the domain), the name and contact information of the registrar (the organization or business that registered the domain name), dates of registration, name servers, last updated, and expiration date. Whois records may also contain administrative and technical contact information (which often, but not always, is the registrant).
Thick and thin Whois models
There are two different data models for storing Whois resource information:
Thin model. A Whois Thin search provides only the registrar, name servers, and dates of registration. For more information, you must conduct a secondary search with the registrar to get complete information about domain name ownership.
Thick Template. The thick Whois provides additional useful information beyond that contained in the thin Whois record. Typically, this extra information includes contact information (registrar, administrative, and technical). Thus, the search will provide all the necessary information about the owner of the domain, where it is registered, the name servers it uses, the date of registration and the possible expiration date.
Finding Whois information takes a lot of effort, given the large number of registrars and Whois servers that exist. DomainTools makes it easy to find Whois information in one place. Our Whois Lookup is a great starting point.
The purpose and value of Whois data has undergone a number of changes over time:
- Improving Internet stability and security by providing network operators, computer incident response teams, and ISPs with appropriate contacts.
- Regulating domain name registration status
- Support law enforcement officials involved in national and international investigations.
- Help combat misuse of information and communication technologies, including illegal and other acts motivated by racial discrimination, violence, hatred, xenophobia and related intolerance, all forms of child abuse, child pornography, pedophilia, exploitation and human trafficking.
- To support investigations and proceedings necessary to obtain trademark clearance, and to help report infringement, theft and misuse of intellectual property in accordance with applicable international treaties and national law.
- To help businesses and other users and organizations combat fraud and protect the public interest.
- To support users' overall trust in the Internet as an effective and reliable means of communication by assisting users in identifying the entities or individuals responsible for online services and content.
- Tracking spammers or malicious behavior
Accuracy of Whois information. The information contained in the Whois record is initially provided when a domain name is registered. Things change over time, and the information becomes outdated. ICANN requires that domain name registrants be given the opportunity to update their contact information. Each registrar has slightly different procedures for changing the information that appears in the Whois record. Typically, this involves accessing the account information through the registrar's web site or through a call center representative. Changes to the Whois record may take some time to become effective (often about 24 hours). Having accurate and up-to-date Whois data makes it easier to contact the registrant or administrator.
Privacy. It is important to note that it is impossible to hide the existence of a domain registration, because anyone can look up the Whois to confirm the status of a domain. ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) requires that the contact information of those who own and manage a domain name is publicly available through the Whois directories. This includes mailing addresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses.
Some domain registrars offer private registration services (also called proxy services) that display the contact information for the registrar and not the registrant. With this "private registration", the organization providing the privacy service is the registrar and contact person for the domain. It is also important to note that even if domain privacy services are used, they do not necessarily guarantee true anonymity. Registrars may be required by law to disclose private information.
Some domain extensions, such as .us and .ca, even have some privacy concerns. In March 2005, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) said that not all .us domain owners would be able to privatize their information and that it should be made public. Since June 2008, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority no longer publishes contact information for domain owners associated with .ca. However, companies and organizations are still required to make this information public.