Authoritative Study of Domain Name Data Accuracy Released

March 1, 2010

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Authoritative Study of Domain Name Data Accuracy Released

CHICAGO, March 1 -- An authoritative study on the accuracy of information provided by those who register Internet domain names - registrants - finds that 23 percent of the records are fully accurate, eight percent are patently false, and the remainder fall somewhere in between these two extremes.  About 75 percent of all records examined eventually led back to the registrant but the majority of records contained at least some missing or inaccurate information. The attached chart shows the range of accuracy levels identified in the study.


The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has released for public comment a study conducted by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago, which examined the records of the WHOIS service.  WHOIS provides free public access to information about the people and organizations who register domain names.

The study was designed to provide a baseline measurement of the accuracy of WHOIS records in five top level domains (.com, .org, .net, .info and .biz) using an internationally representative sample of 1,419 records.  NORC researchers applied three criteria to each record selected in order to verify the mailing address, the association between the name and the mailing address, and to confirm that the registrant had in fact provided information for the domain name.

The study also identified several barriers to registrant data accuracy, including concerns about privacy, confusion about the information required, lack of clarity in the standard to which information should be entered, no requirement for proof of identity or address, and differences in the approaches used by different registrars.

"The Internet community has been aware of issues with WHOIS data accuracy for some time," Jennifer A. Kelly, lead investigator for the study, said.   "Many good proposals have been put forward to address them but consensus on how best to proceed has been difficult due to uncertainty about the extent of the problem.  This study provides a solid basis for moving forward," she went on to say, "and it will help stakeholders determine the level of investment required to improve the WHOIS service."

The public comment period runs through April 15, 2010.  To view and download the report, go to: .pdf.


ICANN is a nonprofit, private sector led corporation based in California and created in 1998 to coordinate key functions of the global Internet.  The work if ICANN is for the public benefit, specifically the benefit of domain name registrants and the global community of an estimated one billion Internet users. ICANN is the place for stakeholder driven policy development on the management of the DNS and issues surrounding it. Learn more at:


NORC conducts high-quality social science research in the public interest. To learn more about NORC, visit our website

PRN Photo Desk,
Source: National Opinion Research Center

CONTACT:  Cathleen Savage of National Opinion Research Center,

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