How Accurate is the Whois Database?

registering domain names and importance of whois database accuracy

ICANN itself has admitted that the data that is collected by the WHOIS database needs to be more accurate. There are many metrics that determine if a WHOIS record is considered accurate. Although the contact information within the record may appear as though it is correct, there are many opportunities for that record to be wrong. For instance, if a name and address seem viable, it may not be accurate if it does not actually match the individual who is the owner, manager or registrar of the domain name that is in question.

Testing the Accuracy of WHOIS Data

ICANN is currently in the middle of a deep debate about just how to test how WHOIS data will be considered accurate. There is a contingent of people who believe that testing the individual elements of data in a WHOIS listing will involve methods that are too problematic. For instance, physical visits might be required to ensure the validity of records beyond a reasonable doubt.

Although problems of validity are considered bad now, there were problems that were much worse just a few years ago. It was the 2013 RAA that forced registrars to validate and verify all pieces and fields of WHOIS data. This same RAA agreement forces registrars to validate either the telephone numbers or emails that are displayed in the listing. However, many people are saying that this is not enough to execute solid business over digital lines. They are pressing for more methods to validate records although they do not know exactly how this is to be accomplished.

Can you the Trust WHOIS Database?

ICANN is currently saying that it is committed to publishing a number of studies. These studies are all geared towards figuring out the best ways to validate records so that people can trust the WHOIS database as an accurate record keeping service of Internet domain name owners and managers.

Although there are problems with making a WHOIS database download your only source of information for online records, law enforcement still uses the database in its investigations. This means there is a measure of validity in the records. For the most part, unless a webmaster or a domain owner really knows what he or she is doing, there are enough blocks in place to ensure that a person cannot get a domain without putting inaccurate information.

WHOIS Database Download

In order for law enforcement to keep up with all registrars, they must demand a WHOIS database download with all registrars. This is where records begin to cross over and become difficult to discern. Different registrars may have different records for the same domain name at different times. It can be difficult to conduct an investigation without bowling over international law if there is a situation that requires a possible invasion of privacy. The accuracy of databases that come from different registrars must be considered as well as the accuracy of each database in turn. This is the only way that international law authorities will allow agencies to push into more intimate investigations across borders and international digital lines.