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RDAP And The .AU Domain Name Space

November 15, 2019

What is Registration Data Access Protocol (RDAP) and what does it have to do with the .au domain space?

Way back in 1982, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) released a protocol for a directory service for ARPANET users.  ARPANET was the precursor to the Internet as we know it today. The protocol, called WHOIS, has been in use since that time and was inherited by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) when the body was established in 1998.

In a nutshell, WHOIS enables a lookup of who is responsible for a domain name or an IP address (or claiming to be). Some also utilize it to try and find available domain names, but a dedicated domain name search tool is a more effective way to go about that task.

WHOIS has done a lot of work over the years - but it hasn't been without its issues, particularly in relation to privacy and accuracy.  For example, spammers and other bottom dwellers of the internet have been known to "scrape" data gained from WHOIS queries to create headaches for domain name registrants. 

A process to reinvent WHOIS began in November 2012.  Its successor will be the Registration Data Access Protocol (RDAP), which has also been developed by the IETF. According to ICANN, RDAP has several advantages over WHOIS including secure access to data and the ability to provide different levels of access to registration data - for example, limited access for anonymous users. 

Generic Top Level Domain (gTLD) registries and registrars were required to implement an RDAP service by late August this year; but RDAP will not replace WHOIS in the short term.

What Does RDAP Mean For .AU?

Australia's .au registry is operated by Afilias, which fully took over the role last year after transitioning 3.1 million Australian domain names.

According to a recent post on the Afilias web site, country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) registries have not been given a deadline for implementation - yet.

"There is substantial technical development that needs to occur across both the registry and registrar functionalities to enable a connection to the RDAP server before this protocol can be accessed in Australia," says Afilias.

The administrator and self-regulatory body of the .au namespace, auDA, has previously noted current protocols are satisfactory for .au, but it is open to RDAP. 

So, it appears even if RDAP is heading for .AU, it may still be way off.

You can learn more about the history of WHOIS here and RDAP implementation here.

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