What is RDAP?
The Registration Data Access Protocol (RDAP) is expected to eventually replace the WHOIS protocol. RDAP is a protocol that delivers registration data like WHOIS, but its implementation will change and standardize data access and query response formats. RDAP has several advantages over the WHOIS protocol), including support for internationalization, secure access to data, and the ability to provide differentiated access to registration data.
RDAP functions are fundamentally different from WHOIS. A WHOIS query is limited to the specific database queried, be it a registry operator or registrar's registration data database. By contrast, RDAP also has a functionality known as "bootstrap" that enables a query to go beyond a specific registry operator or registrar to enable a search of all registration data available in the RDAP service. Instead of returning a result such as "not available," a query will route to the authoritative server to return the relevant data. This is different from the current WHOIS protocol, where the information is not linked across contracted party systems. This enables broader searches while at the same time minimizing the amount of data that is routinely transferred from one entity to another.
Why is RDAP being implemented?
Deficiencies with the current WHOIS system, such as lack of support for internationalization, secure access to data, differentiated access, standardized query, response, and error responses, have been recognized for over a decade. ICANN's Security and Stability Advisory Committee advised in 2011 that the ICANN community evaluate and adopt a replacement protocol. SAC 051: SSAC Report on Domain Name Whois Terminology and Structure [PDF, 243 KB].
The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) has led the work on a replacement protocol (more information available in Background. The ICANN org has been working with registry operators and registrars on RDAP implementation, most recently through the RDAP pilot program. Registry operators and registrars will be required to implement RDAP under the Temporary Specification for gTLD Registration Data. It is expected that RDAP will also be required under any new policy that will go into effect after the expiration of the Temporary Specification.
Will RDAP replace web-based and port 43 WHOIS?
ICANN-accredited registrars currently must provide access to registration data to the public in two ways:
- An interactive web page provided on the registrar's website (web-based WHOIS); and
- WHOIS (port 43) lookup as defined by RFC 3912.
In the short term, RDAP will not replace web-based or port 43 WHOIS. Based on current policies and agreements, contracted parties will be required to implement RDAP in addition to (port 43) WHOIS and web-based WHOIS.
Will RDAP implementation require registry operators or registrars to make any changes to existing registration data?
RDAP implementation will not require changes to the data that is already stored and accessed via WHOIS; it is simply a new way of accessing that registration data.
The registration data is the same, but the structure of the response is different. Having said that, an RDAP client is likely to format the response in a way that is user-friendly and perhaps similar to the WHOIS format, at least at the onset of RDAP deployment.
How will the privacy of registration data be protected in RDAP?
RDAP provides the option to enable differentiated access (for example, limited access for anonymous users and full access for authenticated users).
Under the Temporary Specification, contracted parties are in some cases required or allowed to restrict public access to gTLD registration data. This will also apply in RDAP under the Temporary Specification.
How can a third party access registration data using RDAP?
RDAP is a protocol, not a website an entity can visit to access registration data. RDAP is used using a command line utility, lookup software, or third-party website. ICANN has set up a prototype RDAP web client which third parties are free to use.
Are gTLD registries or registrars required to implement RDAP?
Yes, on 27 February 2019, the ICANN org issued a notification to gTLD registries and registrars of the requirement to implement an RDAP service by 26 August 2019. If you are a gTLD registry or registrar, you may want to review our resources for RDAP Implementers.
For further information, contact Global Support.