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Most registrars are shunning ICANN’s new Whois system

Kevin Murphy, November 30, 2023, 15:38:15 (UTC), Domain Policy

Most of the largest domain registrars are not currently participating in ICANN’s new Registration Data Request Service, according to my research.

I used the RDRS tool to check domains managed by every accredited registrar that has over a million domains under management and discovered that at least 25 out of these 40 registrars do not currently support the service.

The number may be 26, but RDRS did not recognize any domains managed by Chinese registrar Ali Baba as valid, giving instead a “domain does not exist” error message, even for itself.

In total, the 25 registrars coming up blank look after over 63 million gTLD domains, about 28% of the total.

Some very recognizable brands are not in the system.

Squarespace Domains II, the new name for the old Google Domains, the fourth-largest registrar, is the largest company not participating. Together with its original accreditation, Squarespace Domains, they have over 10 million domains under management.

TurnCommerce, GMO, IONOS, NameSilo, PDR, Gname, Dynadot, Wix, OVH,, FastDomain,,, Hostinger,, Xin Net,, Cronon, Domain Robot, Automattic, DNSPod, and Cloudflare are also not in the system.

Oh, and neither is Markmonitor.

While I only checked 40 registrars, not the full 2,702 that were active in the July registry transaction reports, I would expect the level of support to decline the lower down the list you get, particularly as hundreds of accreditations have a trivial number of domains or are merely aliases for companies already known to not support RDRS.

It’s quite possible some of the registrars I’ve named here are planning to sign up and have just been slow to do so, but they’ve had plenty of time — ICANN has been onboarding registrars since September 20.

The level of support from the registrar industry will be critical to judging whether the RDRS project is deemed a success.

In a recent letter to the GNSO Council discussing “success criteria” for the program, ICANN chair Tripti Sinha wrote (pdf):

The Board agrees that the participation of a sufficient number of registrars with a sufficient number of domain name registrations under management will be important with respect to gathering data.

On the bright side, GoDaddy, Tucows and Namecheap are on board, and that represents about 90 million domains. GoDaddy alone accounts for 65 million, slightly more than the combined total of the 25 large registrars that are not participating.

RDRS is a system designed to simplify the process of requesting non-public Whois data by passing all such requests to the relevant registrars through a central hub.

Of course, it’s only useful if the registrars are actually in the system.

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Comments (4)

  1. Steve GOBIN says:

    This new tool is a great opportunity to see the registrars that act in good faith when they say that they take steps to fight against the bad actors on Internet.

    On the other hand, a lot of registrar have activated a whois proxy service on most of the domain name they manage and, unless mistaken, RDRS doesn’t allow one to obtain the underlying registrant’s data when a domain name is registered to a whois proxy service.

    • Rubens Kuhl says:

      Registration data is about all actors, not only bad actors.

      • I have a high confidence that no matter what, some folks will paint registrars in a negative light, but RDRS was kind of front-loaded to underwhelm due to it being willed into being in the mabner it was via a nunber of diverse stakeholders with objectives and outcomes at odds like they were. This is SSAD but true.

        A much better measure and signal about registrars “doing the right thing”will be when the outcome of the vote that registrars and registries underwent, at our own initiation, to better empower ICANN compliance when there is failure to act on evidenced DNS Abuse. The thresholds to pass amendments, especially where industry lead into commitments to do more and have more consequence was very high – requiring nearly all registrars to support it.

        RDRS is not a signal. It is a voluntary beta test of a system that is still ramping up. Not every registrar particicpated at launch, but more will be doing voltntary testing and participation in coming months.

        The additional operational burden to support this at registrars was more easily borne by registrars with larger teams already fielding data requests.

        There are more registrars joining on, like my microscopic (or as I prefer to call it ‘bespoke’) registrar, but signing on opens up obligations, and the obligations tend to be higher on the front end witb people who experiment with the new systems.

        Additionally, with a number of PDP deliverables that completed or are completing from pandemic-remain-productive committees and working groups that join on product roadmaps that compete for cycles with projects that drive growth or sustainence to afford the staff and operations to field nww tickets from ICANN per request.

        Some registrars want to let the system bake in before beta testing, others like mine are ensuring we have all the right things in place to accept requests.

        This will never be perfect. And the days of free-flowing whois data were on their way out due to the data being massively abused to harrass registrants or worse. But ultumately on May 25, 2018 by regulatory means, registrant data access got changed and this system is the start of “as good as it gets” as result.

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