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WHOIS is a public database that houses the information collected when someone registers a domain name or updates their DNS settings.
ICANN, the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, regulates the WHOIS database. They’ve done so since 1982, back in the wild and wooly days of the early Internet. They describe the WHOIS service as a “ …free, publicly available directory containing the contact and technical information of registered domain name registrants.”
The registration data that’s stored in the WHOIS database is actually held in different locations, all managed by different registries and registrars. A registry owns and manages domain extensions, like Verisign who owns .com and .net, but they don’t sell them. Instead, their domains are sold and registered through different registrars, like aklsup.com.
Why was the WHOIS database created?
Initially, the database was created as a directory. It listed “the contact information … of anyone transmitting data across the ARPANET,” a building block of the Internet as we know it today.
Think about it: The Internet we’re familiar with today is absolutely massive. Odds are, you can find just about anything on the Internet. But how often have you stopped to think about where the information is coming from and who’s behind it? With the rise and prominence of fake news, it’s more important now than ever before to know the source of your information.
WHOIS helps to democratize the Internet. Anyone, from businesses and corporations to law enforcement and individual users, can access and use the WHOIS database to find out who is behind a domain name and any associated website.
Beyond that, many people find the WHOIS database a great tool for business opportunities. If you’re looking to take your business online or start a website you’re going to need a domain name. However, as you get started, you might find that the domain name you want is already registered by someone else. You can use the WHOIS database to get their contact information and reach out to try and broker and deal for the domain name you want.