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Re: whois broke again?

  • From: Rodney Joffe
  • Date: Sun Feb 20 19:38:22 2000

William Allen Simpson wrote:

> The NSI registry whois seems to be falling down and cannot get up.
> We need a good system of distributed whois servers, just as we have
> a robust system of distributed DNS servers.

<start of rant>

I think you misunderstand and inadvertently misrepresent the issue. 

NSI's position (and indeed the major driver of it's financial and market
position) has been that the data provided to NSI during the process of
registering a domain is proprietary, confidential, and "copyrightable"
by them. Looked at one way, they're right. There is no reason that they
should make available to *anyone*, not the least their competitors, who
their customers are, and how to contact them. In the days of the total
monopoly (the old days) this was arguable. Now it isn't.

That is *not* to say that the roots of whois are not noble, and
appropriately in the public domain. Or that the data should not be
available today. I am merely pointing out that absent some kind of
larger "in the public interest" issue, they should not have to make
available their customer data.

On the other hand, I believe that there *is* an overwhelming public
interest issue as far as typical whois type data is concerned. The
ability to reach responsible parties during network events like DOS
attacks, bogus announcements, domain failures, spam runs, etc. are
necessary. Of course, the urgent need for a sales droid to inform one
that the/she can get better service elsewhere is *not* one of these
events :-)

I believe that the value of whois data is on a downward spiral,
accelerated by the registrars who themselves create contact data that is
of no value (have you noticed the increasing presence of technical and
admin contacts in domain registrations with "no-valid-email@" as the
address portion)?

There was a time when SOA data served a purpose. Unfortunately that data
is generally outdated, and useless as well (I use it to contact enablers
of spam, so I know how bad it is).

So, a fundamental decision has to be made:

Is it important for parties that control DNS data (domain names and
address space) that are connected to "the network" to be identifiable to
the community at large, and reachable? If so, a replacement rfc needs to
be developed. While it can be argued that due to the fact that there are
so few networks that are default free, it should only be necessary to
identify the provider at the top of the tree, and that contacting them
should start a cascading process that ultimately gets the problem
solved, frequent events experienced by us all prove this wrong.

I believe that without the traditional good sense championed during Jon
Postel's time (the enlightened days) the entity that today could,
should, and won't solve this is ICANN. They have neither the balls, nor
apparently the clue.

Shame on them. And on us for letting it happen.

<end of rant>

I believe this discussion is operational, and valid for this list.
Failure to solve this issue in some way will cause further network
Rodney Joffe
CenterGate Research Group, LLC.
"Technology so advanced, even we don't understand it!"

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