Whois Accuracy Study Released (2010-02-19)

ICANN conducted an extensive review of 1,419 representative domain names including direct contact with over 500 individual domain owners. The review shows that only 23% of domain registrations
display the owner's correct name and physical address.

Moreover, 29% of domains are registered with apparently fake or dubious information which suggests that behind these resources there are shady individuals or criminals. Other 48% of them are categorized as those who are either unaware or unwilling to provide their identity information.

But Jenny Kelly of the National Opinion Research Center (NORC), who headed the investigation, warned against making broad assumptions about the integrity of the Whois system for registration data. "What we found was that 23 per cent of domains had good information that we could verify but there are many others where we were not able to confirm the content and so were not able to say they were good," she explained, citing as an example post-office boxes.

In addition the report also reveals that Whois records for domains contain a lot of incomplete information which is related to the practices of different registrars. "The approach taken varies widely by registrar," Kelly explained.

"As part of my background preparation, I tried to register domains with different registrars. It was clear that some companies have good checks: checking your zip code is right for the city and state you entered, and likely checking credit card details against the registered address. But others did not apply such checks during the registration process, although whether or not they apply them subsequently I don't know."

It has been considered that 95% of domain information was at least partially accurate but the report overthrows these ideas.