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Survey says most Whois records “accurate”

Kevin Murphy, December 13, 2016, 13:37:43 (UTC), Domain Policy

Ninety-seven percent of Whois records contain working email addresses and/or phone numbers, according to the results of an ongoing ICANN survey.
The organization yesterday published the second of its now-biannual WHOIS Accuracy Reporting System reports, a weighty document stuffed with facts and figures about the reliability of Whois records.
It found, not for the first time, that the vast majority of Whois records are not overtly fake.
Email addresses and phone numbers found there almost always work, the survey found, and postal addresses for the most part appear to be real postal addresses.
The survey used a sample of 12,000 domains over 664 gTLDs. It tested for two types of accuracy: “syntactical” and “operability”.
Syntactical testing just checks, for example, whether the email address has an @ symbol in it and whether phone numbers have the correct number of digits.
Operability testing goes further, actually phoning and emailing the Whois contacts to see if the calls connect and emails don’t bounce back.
For postal addresses, the survey uses third-party software to see whether the address actually exists. No letters are sent.
The latest survey found that 97% of Whois records contain at least one working phone number or email address, “which implies that nearly all records contain information that can be used to establish immediate contact.”
If you’re being more strict about how accurate you want your records, the number plummets dramatically.
Only 65% of records had operable phone, email and postal contact info in each of the registrant, administrative and technical contact fields.
Regionally, fully accurate Whois was up to 77% in North America but as low as 49.5% in Africa.
So it’s not great news if Whois accuracy is your bugbear.
Also, the survey does not purport to verify that the owners of the contact information are in fact the true registrants, only that the information is not missing, fake or terminally out-of-date.
A Whois record containing somebody else’s address and phone number and a throwaway webmail address would be considered “accurate” for the survey’s purposes.
The 54-page survey can be found over here.

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