WHOIS comprises a system of databases designed to store the contact information of every registered user of an Internet resource such as a domain name or forum and deliver targeted search results in response to public queries. Anyone with Internet access can use WHOIS to find out more information about the owner of a domain name. Web hosting services providers rely on their clients to keep their WHOIS contact information updated on a regular basis, and you can click here to find out more on the role a provider plays in WHOIS compliance.
The WHOIS database is managed by ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, a non-profit organization which effectively serves as a ruling body governing domain addresses and their implementation. ICANN plays an administrative role in helping to bring order to the Internet, requiring that all domain name services providers collect the full contact information of any individual who registers a domain name with them, including their name, physical location, email and other personal data. New webmasters as well as those making major changes to their domain or hosting account must verify their existing contact information via email within 15 days or face suspension of their domain name.
Risks of WHOIS Violation
Once a domain name has been suspended for WHOIS violation or lapses at the end of a hosting contract, ICANN allows a short redemption period during which the owner can reactivate the domain relatively easily. However, reactivation requires a reactivation fee ranging from $75 to $90 be paid to ICANN along with any renewal fees required by the registrar.
While a domain is suspended, any visitors to the URL will be given a page error message, and if your domain account is linked to other services such as email or a customer database, they will be interrupted for the duration of your suspension. Extended expiration without action can even lead to loss of rights to the domain name, and for some businesses, this can be an extremely valuable asset to forfeit.
WHOIS maintenance may seem minor, but the risks involved with failure to comply with WHOIS guidelines make proper domain name management key to keeping your hosting account and overall web presence in good standing. Company leaders would be well-advised to log into their web hosting service provider’s control panel on a regular basis to provide current information about the owners of the domain name and protect the integrity of their company’s online presence.