Bruce Beckwith is giving some insight into registrar and registry WHOIS services. Some observations in addition to what he’s just saying: The RAA’s opt-out clause for bulk whois only concerned marketing uses, and was available only to individual registrants. Thick registry WHOISes actually publish data elements not mandatory for a registrar WHOIS, namely the registrant’s phone number, fax number, and e-mail address.
Later on, Beckwith cleans up some misconceptions, e.g., bulk access as an alleged major source for spam. Points out that registry zone files which permit to identify changes to a TLD, together with query-based registrar whois, are making a major contribution to spam.
For further discussion: Restrict zone file access to legitimate uses? Can WHOIS access be limited for legitimate purposes? Many queries can be addressed by “domain available” or “domain not available” responses. Final question: “Should the same WHOIS information that was available 21 years ago be available now?”
Vint asks about zone file requirement. Beckwith: Contract requirement, anti-misuse clause, but can’t enforce that. Touton: Requirement applies to all gTLD registries.