WHOIS Data:  A Fundamental Tool for Protecting Internet Security, Commerce, and Consumers

Security experts, law enforcement, researchers and others rely on accessible WHOIS data to protect networks, fight crime, and investigate online abuse. Companies and consumers also rely on accessible WHOIS data, directly and derivatively, to determine who they are buying goods or services from.

WHOIS data has been freely and publicly available since the beginning of the internet as we know it. But due to an overly broad misinterpretation of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the availability of WHOIS data to the general public is at risk, threatening the safety and transparency of the internet.

The Coalition for a Secure and Transparent Internet (CSTI) was formed to educate federal and international policymakers and stakeholders on the critical importance of open access to WHOIS data, and to advocate for appropriate policy decisions to protect this crucial tool.

We invite you to learn more about how you can assist in preserving access to this essential information and help keep the internet safe and secure.

WHOIS Data 101

As the world becomes more interconnected, and information flows freely between different networks and over geographic boundaries, WHOIS data helps preserve the essential notion that the internet is a safe and secure place to do business.

Policy and Advocacy

To maintain internet security and transparency, CSTI believes U.S. federal legislation is needed to require registries and registrars to provide open access to WHOIS records that are accurate, non-anonymous and accessible in bulk.


CSTI aims to educate about the critical importance of open access to WHOIS data. We have collected informative resources including white papers and technology podcasts, as well as a comprehensive set of materials from ICANN.

Recent News

FDA Cybercrimes Investigations Unit Presents Testimony to Senate Caucus

“Conducting online investigations is not easy, and FDA has a narrow, but important role in combating the online sale of opioids. For good or bad, much of the Internet ecosystem, including dark nets, have adapted and changed to build in anonymity. Public information about the owner of a domain name, known as “whois” data, is now often impossible to access with the implementation of the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)…”
– Daniel Burke, Senior Operations Manager, Cybercrime Investigations Unit of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration

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How Has GDPR Affected Spam?

“The real answer is that it is far too early to tell. Various articles currently state that ‘nothing has happened’ as a result of GDPR or ‘spam has fallen slightly’; however, the true effects of GDPR providing anonymity to domain owners will take a long time to play out. The main crux of the matter isn’t the effect GDPR is having on spam levels, but how it’s hampering organizations from effectively stopping career cybercriminals from defrauding innocent people.”

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Whois Data, More Important Than Ever

“2018 has been a tough year to be a domain name Whois record. For years Whois has been a favorite and uniquely effective tool of security researchers and law enforcement to battle cybercrime and cyberattacks, yet now that data will be kept under wraps to be metered out, if at all, under the watchful eye of domain name registrars whose strongest orientation in this matter is to their own legal certainty and the privacy of their customers. The situation DNS finds itself in is the unfortunate result of today’s privacy-centric global policy regimes.”

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About CSTI

CSTI advocates before U.S. and EU policymakers, ICANN, registrars, registries, and other stakeholders about the importance of open access to WHOIS data.