The End of Whois?

The New York Times is reporting that according to an Associated Press report, the whois system may no longer be used. According to the article:

“The Associated Press reports that the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which sets rules for domain names, may allow the system to end because of a disagreement over how it should work.

Part of the issue is that the registrars—a rather low margin business—have been charging domain owners an extra fee for the equivalent of an unlisted phone number—a Web site without real contact information listed in the whois directories.”Source New York Times

Many people have complained about the whois database because it can be data mined for email addresses,  which  makes it  a major source of spam to domain owners and businesses. Unsolicited emails generated from user Whois queries are both annoying and frustrating to domain owners.

Eliminating the whois would be a boon to aftermarket companies like Sedo and Afternic, as domain investors would spend more time searching those sites in lieu of whois searches.   This would be time consuming for domain investors, and it would certainly narrow the amount of available domain names for sale.

Perhaps an alternative to scrapping the whois system would be to allow free privacy services to domain owners instead of the fee  registrars currently charge.  This would allow people to become unlisted, and it wouldn’t be financially burdensome for those who have hundreds of names in their portfolio.

If the whois database is eliminated, I foresee companies offering historical records for a fee, which would make owners susceptible to continuing to receive email.   Although scrapping the system might seem like the easiest and quickest fix, in the long run, I don’t think it will help the domain industry.


  1. It would be terrific if WHOIS was killed… as one who owns many domains, I agree with the article that the privacy concerns of domain owners is a big issue. With respect to buying and selling, the market will always correct itself with respect to the development of a place where buyers can easily and cheaply contact owners (and vice versa) in order to sell and/or buy domains, possibly adding a level of professionalism to the process of making an offer as opposed to those who just want access to the WHOIS database for marketing, spamming or other unwanted purposes.

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