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Domain ‘whois’ lookups to be discontinued?

Posted on | October 30, 2007 | No Comments

Anyone who has registered an Internet domain name in the last few years is probably familiar with that little check box that says “Protect my privacy”. Some legal entanglements from privacy advocates might result in scrapping the whois lookup service altogether.

Take a peek at the above link, then come back to this post. The reasoning behind the suggested changes is far too complex to explain without going far away from my intended topic.

My only real interest in the whois service (provided by ARIN/APNIC/RIPE) is to determine who owns a certain IP address, typically I could care less about who owns a domain name. If someone from abcdef.com is sending me SPAM or attacking one of my computers, the last thing I’m going to do is e-mail the domain owner asking them to stop. I contact their upstream provider to register my abuse complaint, ensuring (usually) that it stops.

Privacy issues aside, trashing domain whois lookups would mean:

  • Less spam
  • Less haggling in the bidding process for domains (at the registrar level)
  • No more need for proxy registrations, fixing some interesting issues for ICANN.
  • No more “keep your contact info up to date or else” e-mails from registrars
  • No more goofy stalkers calling the number listed at the registrar and breathing heavy into the phone (or worse)

There are different types of whois lookups, one returning the information on a person who registered a domain, the other returning the information of the owner of an IP address (or block of addresses).

Getting rid of domain whois lookups would not effect my ability to mitigate and report network abuse, as I said, I go right to the owner of the IP address. No issues there.

If someone violates copyright, simply dig the IP of the domain then look up the IP owner and file appropriately. If someone posts libel on some web site causing you undue hardship or damages, follow the same procedure.

Could someone point out a good reason to NOT discontinue domain whois lookups? I really can’t think of one, save for satisfying my infrequent curiosity of “I wonder who owns that site …”

Some of you might remember ‘finger’ , a utility to let you retrieve information about a user on a Unix-like computer. That was ditched, I’m thinking that domain whois lookups might follow the same suit.

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