As of 2019, there’s over two billion domain names on the internet. But who tracks and manages domain name registration? We’re gonna talk to you about that.
Let’s start at the top with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN for short. ICANN is a non-profit responsible for a lot of the functions that keep the internet running smoothly. This includes managing and coordinating IP addresses, domain names and DNS.
ICANN is also responsible for accrediting registrars, like GoDaddy. Registrars are independent
companies that allow the public to purchase and register domain names.
When you purchase a domain name, it must also be registered with ICANN. ICANN requires registrars to collect information about every purchaser, like name, address, phone number and email. This information is also referred to as WHOIS data.
As a governing body, ICANN’s goal is to provide accurate and timely access to WHOIS data. To accomplish this, they accredit registrars that work under contract with ICANN. And really, WHOIS doesn’t stand for anything. It’s just, who is, all caps and mushed together.
It’s important to note that WHOIS is not a single centrally operated database. It’s a term used to describe all of the purchaser info collected and managed by registrars, which they then make available to the public. Anyone can use a WHOIS lookup to search for the owner of a domain name assuming it’s not privately registered.
In addition, ICANN periodically assesses the effectiveness of WHOIS to determine whether it promotes consumer trust, safeguards registrant data and meets legitimate needs of law enforcement.
Okay, let’s recap. ICANN oversees and manages several functions that keep the internet running smoothly. As part of this, ICANN accredits and contracts with registrars that are then allowed to sell and register domains. When registrars sell a domain, they must collect the purchasers contact information, also known as WHOIS data. Under contract with ICANN, registrars are responsible for providing public access to this data via WHOIS lookups.
Now that’s probably way more information than you wanted to know about this topic. But it really comes in handy when you need to understand things like pricing, privacy and renewals.
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