Why are these domains allowed to not have whois information? Is this something that anyone can access, for privacy protection?
TLDR: It’s not the case that these domains have somehow obtained an exemption from ICANN that allows them not to omit certain data from public WHOIS records. It’s more likely the case that the WHOIS record you saw is not displaying the full set of records for
google.com (or the other
.com domain names).
Thick and thin WHOIS lookups
WHOIS data for Internet domains can be stored in one of two ways:
- a thick data store where each TLD registry keeps the complete WHOIS records for each sub-domain of the TLD.
- a thin model where the TLD registry delegates storage and maintenance of the WHOIS records to the registrar that was used by the registrant to register the domain.
The WHOIS Wikipedia article explains the distinction between thick and thin WHOIS lookups and describes thin lookups as
A Thin WHOIS server stores only the name of the WHOIS server of the
registrar of a domain, which in turn has the full details on the data being
looked up (such as the .com WHOIS servers, which refer the WHOIS query to
the registrar where the domain was registered).
Lookups for .com
ICANN has assigned Verisign as the registry to manage the
.com domain name. A WHOIS query run on ICANN’s own WHOIS server,
whois.verisign-grs.com as the canonical WHOIS server to use for the
.com domain. This is the default WHOIS server that is queried by
whois clients when looking up details of
.com domain names (the results of this query is what’s displayed in your question).
.com domain uses the thin model, one of the keys (records) returned by a WHOIS lookup for a domain name is Registrar WHOIS Server. This key specifies the domain name of the WHOIS server that is responsible for listing the full details of the domain name in question:
Registrar WHOIS Server: whois.markmonitor.com
This key tells the
whois client that it should actually query
whois.markmonitor.com to get the full WHOIS records for the domain in question.
It looks like the WHOIS result that you saw was as a result of not following this referral.
One reason for not following WHOIS referrals
One reason for the
whois client to not follow the referral is that earlier this year, ICANN changed the names of keys that registry operators should use.
Previous to this change, the name of the key used to specify the delegated server was Whois Server, and the output for
google.com would have been:
Whois Server: whois.markmonitor.com
After domain name registries updated their WHOIS servers, any clients looking for the string,
WHOIS Server: (with leading spaces) would not find it – and would thus be unable to determine the name of the registrar’s WHOIS server.
Example client fix
To reflect ICANN’s recent changes, the code for the Debian
whois client was patched this July and released as version 5.2.17. However, (as of October 2017) most Debian-based distributions will still be using the previous code-base so users would have to explicitly provide the name of the responsible WHOIS server, e.g.,
whois -h whois.markmonitor.com google.com