From first-hand experience I understand why registrants might want
their details kept private - they don't wish to be spammed or
harassed. It is commonplace to give incorrect information, and it is
exceptionally rare to suffer from doing so (I didn't find a single
instance). Typically you need a correct email address, or else
extending the registration becomes difficult or impossible - the worst
aspect being that the renewal notice never gets to you.
My searches turned up some cases of incorrect WHOIS data being used as
evidence against domain squatters - but no cases of punishment being
dealt to genuine domain owners.
These days the best solution is to use a registrar that works with
Domains by Proxy - a service that protects your WHOIS privacy;
The current agreement between ICAAN and registrars has this clause:
3.7.8 Registrar shall abide by any specifications or policies
established according to Section 4 requiring reasonable and
commercially practicable (a) verification, at the time of
registration, of contact information associated with a Registered Name
sponsored by Registrar or (b) periodic re-verification of such
information. Registrar shall, upon notification by any person of an
inaccuracy in the contact information associated with a Registered
Name sponsored by Registrar, take reasonable steps to investigate that
claimed inaccuracy. In the event Registrar learns of inaccurate
contact information associated with a Registered Name it sponsors, it
shall take reasonable steps to correct that inaccuracy.
If there is ever a dispute over your right to own a domain name,
posting false contact details is a major negative - it indicates that
you purchased the domain in "bad faith". For example see item 6.3 in
this case between Telstra and Nuclear Marshmallows
Typically registrars have registrants agree to clauses like this:
"False information: THNIC is intolerant of any false information
provided at the application. If we become aware of any false
information, we reserve the right to hold or cancel that domain name
without having to notify and refund the name holder."
"Registering a domain name is currently done on the honor system -- a
registrant simply fills out an online form, and his domain name is
automatically reserved for him. As such, the process is ideal for
cybersquatters or other scammers looking to defraud businesses and
While ICANN mandates that registrars require registrants to provide
accurate information, it doesn't force registrars to verify that
information at the time of registration.
ICANN Vice President Louis Touton said that currently there isn't a
feasible way to ensure the accuracy of Whois data on the front end. "
Lack of Checks
A Reuters report from last month discusses the problem:
"But domain-name sellers, or registrars, rarely check to ensure this
information is accurate, making it easier for child pornographers,
identity thieves and other scam artists to operate online, witnesses
Often it is in the registrar's interest to turn a blind eye to whois
entries to attract porn-site operators, who register thousands of
domain names at a time, said Harvard University researcher Ben
"The whois database is substantially fiction," said Edelman, noting
that as many as 10% of the Internet's 30 million domain names may be
registered under false names.
..."There's not a real seriousness of intent either by ICANN or the
Department of Commerce to have an accurate whois database," the Texas
Final Report of the GNSO Council's Whois Task Force Accuracy and Bulk
Access - 6 February 2003
Search keywords: "false information" whois