I have been getting an abuse report via my hosting company which is reported by other people, and my host has been threatening to terminate the hosting/account.

The abuse report is sent because I am displaying domain WHOIS information on my website which the reporter claims is private information and I am not allowed to display it on the website.

If, such website is illegal then how the websites having similar content like following were operating:


Are such information (domain WHOIS) considered private information about a person or organization?

If, those are public information, how can I prove it to my host/reporter? Is it anywhere written officially that I can display it when running WHOIS lookup website?

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    Your web host may terminate your hosting even for things that are not illegal. Their terms and service or your contract with them may prevent you from hosting some perfectly legal content. – Stephen Ostermiller Feb 26 '18 at 17:51
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    This is a far trickier question than the responses here indicate. Some whois data is copyrighted. You cannot take it "as is". You will notice the sites you cited parse the data and present it another way. It is transformative to avoid copyright issues. On this, you should contact a lawyer. On a side note, whois sites suffer greatly these days. I would not even try to create one of these sites today. I know this first hand. Not worth the effort. – closetnoc Feb 26 '18 at 22:00
  • Otherwise it is not illegal assuming you can circumvent copyright issues. People will always complain their data is public. Tough noogies! Whois data is public. If they do not want their data public they should make it private. It is distasteful in my opinion. In my case, I only provided it for sites and systems that were either hacking or spamming and had a forgiveness model that removed the pages over time. It was a service to help site owners who were being abused. Perfectly legitimate purpose and process. Still, I do not recommend this either. – closetnoc Feb 26 '18 at 22:06
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    You should not argue your case by comparing with other websites. They may be all illegal or not, like yours, but if you are targeted by a lawsuit just saying "but others are doing it too" will not save you. If you have a specific report (specific domain name) just show the complainant/hoster the link to the registry whois website for this domain, that will show the data is public. But other than that your question lacks details and verges on being a question for a lawyer, so off-topic there. – Patrick Mevzek Feb 26 '18 at 23:22
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    How/Why are you displaying whois records? For any domain or just some/one? For what purpose? Just to be a web whois, or is this included in some other service (like selling domain name registrations, hosting, whatever...) – Patrick Mevzek Feb 26 '18 at 23:23

Whois information provided by ICANN is public information for anyone to see.

If you are somehow displaying private whois information that hasn't been made public than this could be an issue.

But it sounds like you are only displaying the information that has been made public by the domain owners.

The abuse reports that you are receiving sound similar to DMCA takedown requests. Anyone is able to send DMCA notices. And because the legal threat of a webhosting company being sued is high enough, most webhosting companies will just shut you down if they receive any of these threats/requests. It's a very unfortunate thing. And it leads to a lot of abuse and misuse.

The safest thing you can do is remove any content that your webhosting company wants you to, even if you do not believe it is in the requester's legal right to ask you to do so. This will hopefully keep you in good standing with your hosting provider.

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    No. ICANN does not provide any whois information. TLD registries provide domain information, as well as registrars in some specific cases (like currently the thin .COM/.NET registry) – Patrick Mevzek Feb 26 '18 at 23:16

no, the Whois database is designed to display the contact information for domain owners, you are just providing a way to access that data, just like many other websites. ICANN takes no stance on websites of this nature, and it seems likely they won't, since they are the ones who require public Whois information.

Your host may not know any better (esp the agents) and you may want to try to escalate the issue

  • ICANN does not police the web, and as for the public whois information, things are becoming more complicated now with the European GDPR coming soon into full force. – Patrick Mevzek Mar 7 '18 at 22:59

It may be a moot point soon. Under the GDPR or whatever it is called, whois may be shutting down. https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/03/16/whois_gdpr_icann/

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