ICANN is working on a radical change of the system of Whois databases, to gather information on domain names in a centralized database, which access would be possible only with prior authorization.
The WHOIS database that gathers information on domain names and their owners could disappear. Computer World reports indeed a working group of ICANN, the Expert Working Group on gTLD Directory Services (EWG) released a report (.pdf) recommendation to drastically change the operation of the service.
Currently, each domain name registry provides its own research Whois server, which is publicly accessible without authentication. But due to extensive standardization, records do not provide all the same data, or not in the same form, it is not always easy to know what Whois query server, and especially there is a very patchy compliance the privacy of the owners of domains. Some services offer to mask the identity of the administrative and technical contacts of the domain, but not all.
The EWG proposes a system revolution. Rather than having a multitude of self Whois services, the ICANN working group proposes to set up an aggregate register, centralized, called Aggregated Registration Directory Service (ARDS). Various technical proposals are made to ensure the basic update, but especially the issue of privacy and the fight against spam (via the Whois data of mass aggregation) is central.
If the proposal is implemented, it will seek authorization prior to access information of a domain name, which would profoundly change the philosophy of Whois, and transparency offered so far. Once the certification granted, the use that will be made will be observed, to rule out those who abuse their access rights to the database.