ICANN’s new “WHOIS” directory to simplify identification of website owners

icann_whoisICANN has launched the first phase of a new “one-stop” online resource about the WHOIS directory service which provides a clear and easy-to-understand explanation of how to access existing WHOIS information on who has registered domain names. The directory will make make it easier for people to identify those behind websites and various online resources.

The WHOIS directory service is an essential tool used by many people and organizations every day. Anyone who needs to know who is behind a website, domain name can look it up via WHOIS directory information. Network administrators, registry operators, domain name registrants, governments, law enforcement, consumer groups, and the international Internet community find it crucial.

In less technical terms, the Business Dictionary defines WHOIS as a directory service which lists name, street address, and contact information of people who own and/or maintain Internet sites.

In addition to identifying domain name holders, WHOIS data also allows network administrators and others to find and fix system problems and to maintain Internet stability. With it, they can determine the availability of domain names, combat spam or fraud, identify trademark infringement and enhance accountability of domain name registrants. WHOIS data is sometimes used to track down and identify registrants who may be posting illegal content or engaging in phishing scams.

Previously, it was difficult to get a holistic understanding of WHOIS as information was highly distributed over many different websites. The new website will be a centralized location for all WHOIS information, making it easier to learn about WHOIS, raise accuracy issues about WHOIS information and how to contribute to WHOIS policies. ICANN expects to launch an integrated search function in January 2014 as part of the site’s second phase.

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