Whois is currently in its last stages of life, and updated versions of ICANN’s standard contracts provide a schedule for the service’s eventual termination.
The org has published proposed amendments to its Registrar Accreditation Agreement and Registry Agreement, and the majority of the changes concentrate on the transition that will take place throughout the industry from the older Whois standard to the more modern Registration Data Access Protocol.
Here, all that is being discussed is a modification to the technical specification as well as the nomenclature. There will still be query services that may be used to find up the owner of a domain, and the result will consist of a number of redactions. There is a good chance that people will continue to use the term “Whois.”
However, registrars and registries will have around 18 months from the time the new RAA goes into effect, which is likely going to be next year, to make the transfer from Whois to RDAP.
An “RDAP Ramp-up Period” will commence immediately following the day that the contract goes into effect. During this time, registrars will not be held accountable under RDAP service-level agreements. This lasts for a total of 180 days.
Registrars will only be required to maintain their Whois operational for a further three hundred sixty days after the conclusion of that phase, which is known as the “WHOIS Services Sunset Date.” After that, they will have the option of either turning off Whois or keeping it functioning (while still being governed by ICANN), according on their preferences.
If it becomes necessary, the CEO of ICANN and the chair of the Registrars Stakeholder Group will have the ability to push back this expiration date.
As a result of an order issued by ICANN in 2019, the majority of registrars currently operate an RDAP server. IANA is responsible for publishing a list of all of the service URLs. One registrant has already been stripped of its certification, in part, due to the fact that it did not utilize one.
There is little question that in order for certain registrars, particularly smaller ones, to become compliant with the new RAA, implementation work will need to be completed.
There will also be modifications that need to be made to third-party software and services that use Whois in some capacity, such as those used in the security industry or even those used for simple inquiry services. In a couple of years, those who have not been following the regulations established by ICANN may be in for a rude awakening.
Since almost three years ago, the contracting parties have been meeting in private to negotiate these adjustments behind closed doors. Since the conclusion of the last RAA, over a full decade has passed.