The end of whois, RDAP is here.

Labeled as information in Domain Industry News started by NameDeck, Jun 14, 2019.


  1. NameDeck

    NameDeck Design. Develop. Deploy. VIP

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    I didn't notice this being mentioned anywhere yet recently so here's a good read. At first glance it seems to be a welcome improvement although I haven't looked into the technical side myself.

    The end of whois, a warm welcome to RDAP

    For many decades, the “whois” protocol has been the one and almost-only source to find domain name registration data or IP address details. Whether queried through the registry’s website or hardcore on the command line, you were often able to find information about who registered a domain name and some related details. Over the years, both the internet and society have evolved. The growth of the domain registration volumes to more than 300 million nowadays perfectly suits the data-hungry people, while those same people have increased awareness about the concept of privacy. The enforcement of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May last year sped up changes that were already under (slower) development for a few years: how does the future of the whois look like?

    Limitations of whois
    While the whois protocol suited the needs of 35 years ago, and maybe still those of 10 years ago, the aforesaid evolution has revealed many shortcomings, a few of which I will mention here:

    ● It lacks a standardised format. The output is text-based and each supplier (for example registry) defines its own text format. That makes efficient parsing of whois data very complex, if not impossible.
    ● There is insufficient support for internationalisation. British registration data will show up correctly, but what about a Chinese person registering a .uk domain?
    ● There is no authentication possible. Whois is just whois – the same output is returned for everyone. This is one of the discrepancies that GDPR highlighted: personal data must be hidden for the world, but law enforcement and some other instances must be able to get it.
    ● And last but not least, it’s terribly insecure. The client cannot authenticate the server and both sending and receiving data is unencrypted.

    Developing a new protocol: RDAP
    In September 2011, the Security and Stability Advisory Committee (SSAC) of ICANN advised that the ICANN community should evaluate and adopt a replacement domain name registration data access protocol (RDAP). Development began in June 2012, and almost 3 years later the RFCs were published. From that moment on, the technique could be mapped to policy. In August 2017, the Registry and Registrar Stakeholder Groups advised ICANN to start the implementation; the GDPR boosted this decision and recently we have received an announcement from ICANN that, starting from the 26 th of August 2019, both registries and registrars are required to replace their whois servers by RDAP servers.

    The features of RDAP
    The limitations of the whois protocol are all solved with RDAP. For example, RDAP comes out-of-the-box with the following features:
    ● The protocol uses bootstrapping and standard redirection and reference mechanisms to easily find the authoritative server. This simply means that the RDAP client always knows where to start its quest for data, and that every referral (for example from the registry to registrar) is standardised. The question “which whois server should I use” will no longer be asked.
    ● The query, response and error messages are standardised (including internationalisation) and RDAP works over the existing HTTP protocol. More about standardisation: the response is in JSON format and contact objects are returned as vCards.
    ● Security is built-in as connections are forced over HTTPS. Also, authentication is built-in; output can be different, depending on who queries the data.
    ● Although not supposed to be used in the short term, the RDAP protocol supports searching for data instead of only static lookups. On top of those RDAP features, ICANN will enforce support for both IPv4 and IPv6 and standardised the output for an object that cannot be found (a simple 404 error).

    What does RDAP look like?
    So far the theory, but how will it look like? The great thing about RDAP that it returns data instead of formatted data. So it will look like you want it to look like. Of course, most people will not request and parse the raw RDAP data themselves, but use a registrar’s website, registry’s website or external source to request the information. Those suppliers will parse the data in a readable format, which is most likely not going to differ a lot from what we see now in the whois. One of the registries already operating a public RDAP server is the Swiss registry. To get an idea about the RDAP format, check it for or your own domain of course! A more extensive example is the pilot of .com registry Verisign; the output for is quite extensive. At this moment, we cannot tell you how Openprovider will parse and visualise RDAP responses. Return to our website or your control panel at the end of August and you’ll see!

    source: OpenProvider
    The views expressed on this page by users and staff are their own, not those of NamePros.
  2. NYJimbo

    NYJimbo Domain Re-Animator VIP

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    Bottom line: This means nothing to any of us. :-P
  3. NameDeck

    NameDeck Design. Develop. Deploy. VIP

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    Lol, maybe you're right. Whois .com will be in need of some serious rebranding though ;)
  4. offthehandle

    offthehandle . Gold Account VIP

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    That speaks for itself on a lack of leadership, I suppose on ICANN's watch. Had it been standardized in English only to begin with all Registrars complying with the same format, then perhaps it would not be a problem now.
  5. MadAboutDomains

    MadAboutDomains Top Member VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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  6. Openprovider

    Openprovider New Member

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    Nice to see our news read by the industry specialists globally :)
  7. Avijit Roy

    Avijit Roy Established Member

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  8. Goku

    Goku Established Member ★★★★★★★★★★

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    Is this rolling out any soon?
  9. NameDeck

    NameDeck Design. Develop. Deploy. VIP

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    It should go live August 27th. I personally like it as it would be easier to query. I've looked into it a bit and it looks like a major improvement to me.

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