The term “WHOIS” refers to protocols, services, and data types associated with Internet naming and numbering resources beyond domain names, such as Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, and Autonomous System Numbers (ASNs). The WHOIS service includes WHOIS clients, WHOIS servers, WHOIS data stores, and WHOIS data (domain name registration records). Essentially, WHOIS can refer to any of the following:
- The information that is collected at the time of registration of a domain name or IP numbering resource and subsequently made available via the WHOIS Service, and potentially updated throughout the life of the resource;
- The WHOIS Protocol itself, which is defined in RFC 3912; or
- The WHOIS Services that provide public access to domain name registration information typically via applications that implement the WHOIS protocol or a web-based interface.
These ambiguities inherent in the WHOIS label complicate efforts to shape the evolution of meta-data for Internet naming and numbering. To address this, ICANN has developed more precise terminology for gTLDs, including: