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ICANN puts Whois on end-of-life list

Pesky service costs registries too much, apparently

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ICANN is proposing a goodbye to Whois, saying that data is often inaccurate and suggesting that some search fields should be restricted to “authenticated requestors”.

Its discussion paper, here, says Whois is “broken”.

The paper seems to suggest that one of the things that's “broken” the Whois system is the proliferation of new gTLDs, which is making the “Internet ecosystem … more complex”. The report notes that “historically, most of these responsibilities were transferred to the Registrars, whose primary goal was to provide working domain names to paying customers.”

Whois searches, on the other hand, don't yield income for the registrars.

“The EWG concluded that today’s WHOIS model—giving every user the same anonymous public access to (too often inaccurate) gTLD registration data—should be abandoned. Instead, the EWG recommends a paradigm shift whereby gTLD registration data is collected, validated and disclosed for permissible purposes only, with some data elements being accessible only to authenticated requestors that are then held accountable for appropriate use,” the report states.

Its proposal is for an “aggregated registration data service” (ARDS) under which registries would no longer need to provide Port 43 access for searches. While they would hold authoritative data for domain ownership, the aggregators would take a non-authoritative copy of registration data for “authenticated requestors” to search.

Relieving registries of the obligation to respond to Whois searches would reduce the bandwidth and compute requirements of the registries, but it would also mean that the ARDS would have to be funded somehow. As the discussion paper notes:

“The issue of cost is an important aspect of the RDS,” the paper notes, suggesting that the gTLD directory services export working group should “explore this issue further, including costs of development and operation and possible ways in which these expenses might be borne.”

It offers either RDS funding “offset by value-added service fees” as possible means to pay for the new intermediate registry search operators. ®

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