The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect back on May 25th causing much stress as each business strived to ensure privacy policies to be GDPR compliant before the deadline as this affected businesses in nations well beyond the reach of just EU across the globe for this new era of how data privacy is handled.
Unsurprisingly the Domaining industry was also pushed into this new frontier with ICANN limiting WHOIS functions.
WHOIS was a system where anyone could look up the owner of a domain name. It wasn’t perfect or always accurate but it was a good way for many people to check ownership of a domain or attempt to make contact.
The GDRP was never going to be compatible with what that WHOIS system was so it’s not a surprise ICANN had little choice to do what it had to or face the fines with the same being said for any registrar that did not comply.
I’ve seen many domain investors and brokers up in arms that this was a terrible decision that it would usher in a wave of stolen domains entering the market and that we’d have fewer ways of identifying true owners of a domain name, unauthorized sales would run rampant and UDRP processes will get that much more complicated.
I find such notions a little disingenuous, as many truly seasoned with sales would know the WHOIS data while useful rarely is ever the full picture and no due diligence would stop at a WHOIS check.
Those doing dubious actions to obtain domain names and sell them will always find ways to do so and manipulate buyers and sellers through social engineering and any other techniques. It is our duty to remain vigilant and alert with questioning and caution.
Now that this data is “gone” or at least forever frozen up until May 25th with only DNS/Hosting data being identifiable and backup whois data available at some sources, it would be wise for some to get access to historical data now before they become unavailable. Such data will surely prove available for contact details for outsourcing (the irony does not escape me).
While I can’t speak for other consultants/brokers along with domain investors I’m sure the WHOIS was not used or as reliable as many make it seem. Since private registrations became common it’s taken attentive investigating skills to communicate with prospective owners of domains and that was rarely going to change.
One thing to note is while most registrar’s(for now) return a private result when checking their whois database one can use a many other whois search services available online such as Whois For All that still show data just fine.
It’s also very likely things will return to normal eventually as ICANN resolve the issue.
There are just so many more efficient ways to prove ownership without seeing whois details and perhaps this is also why some users would benefit hiring brokering services from a party that already has the reach, connections and knowledge to ensure a safe transaction providing the trust and transparency needed that so often would not be there without the service.
I don’t think this has caused many ripples at all within the domain industry which will and has adapted as always. It’s business as usual.