This article originally appeared in The Domain Name Industry Brief (Volume 18, Issue 3)
Earlier this year, the Internet Engineering Task Force’s (IETF’s) Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG) announced that several Proposed Standards related to the Registration Data Access Protocol (RDAP), including three that I co-authored, were being promoted to the prestigious designation of Internet Standard. Initially accepted as proposed standards six years ago, RFC 7480, RFC 7481, RFC 9082 and RFC 9083 now comprise the new Standard 95. RDAP allows users to access domain registration data and could one day replace its predecessor the WHOIS protocol. RDAP is designed to address some widely recognized deficiencies in the WHOIS protocol and can help improve the registration data chain of custody.
In the discussion that follows, I’ll look back at the registry data model, given the evolution from WHOIS to the RDAP protocol, and examine how the RDAP protocol can help improve upon the more traditional, WHOIS-based registry models.
For more than 30 years, the industry has used a service and protocol named WHOIS to access the data associated with domain name and internet address registration activities.
Do you need to find out who has registered a particular domain name? Use WHOIS.
Do you want to see who an Internet Protocol (IP) address has been allocated to? Use WHOIS.
In 1905, philosopher George Santayana famously noted, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” When past attempts to resolve a challenge have failed, it makes sense to consider different approaches even if they seem controversial or otherwise at odds with maintaining the status quo. Such is the case with the opportunity to make real progress in addressing the many functional issues associated with WHOIS. We need to think differently.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” As we consider how Internet domain and address registration data is managed and accessed in a post-WHOIS era, and given the long history of failure in addressing the shortcomings of WHOIS, it is extremely important to start preparing now for the eventual replacement of WHOIS. This is the fundamental purpose of the next Registration Operations Workshop (ROW) that is scheduled for Sunday, July 19, 2015, in Prague, Czech Republic.
ROW 2015-2 will take place at the Hilton Prague hotel, the same venue as the 93rd meeting of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF-93). The workshop will be dedicated to discussion and planning for development and testing deployments of the Registration Data Access Protocol (RDAP), a recent work product of the IETF that is documented in Request For Comments (RFC) documents 7480, 7481, 7482, 7483, and 7484. RDAP was designed from the beginning to address the many shortcomings of WHOIS, but we have very little experience with early-stage implementations that can be used to inform the policy decisions that need to be made. Additional information about WHOIS and RDAP can be found in my “Where Do Old Protocols Go To Die?” blog post published earlier this year. (more…)
In Ripley Scott’s classic 1982 science fiction film Blade Runner, replicant Roy Batty (portrayed by Rutger Hauer) delivers this soliloquy:
“I’ve…seen things you people wouldn’t believe…Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those…moments…will be lost in time, like (cough) tears…in…rain. Time…to die.”
The WHOIS protocol was first published as RFC 812 in March 1982 – almost 33 years ago. It was designed for use in a simpler time when the community of Internet users was much smaller. WHOIS eventually became the default registration data directory for the Domain Name System (DNS). As interest in domain names and the DNS has grown over time, attempts have been made to add new features to WHOIS. None of these attempts have been successful, and to this day we struggle with trying to make WHOIS do things it was never designed to do.