Did you know that, by law, a web hosting company has to disclose who owns the site? Pertinent contact information must also be included.
Why is this necessary? Well, if someone comes across a site that they deem questionable, they can report the site for its future removal from the internet.
Think of a domain name like your cell phone contact list. You probably don't dial numbers for your close friends and family. Instead, you choose a name from your list of contacts. When you choose the name and select “dial” or “call,” the number stored under that contact is dialed for you. A domain name is like the contact name, relating directly to IP address of the corresponding computer, like the phone number related to that contact in your list.
ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) regulates these requirements, assuring that proper information is listed for each web hosting company. The data related to this contact information is called “Whois data/ who owns the site” and is actually public record information. It includes not only registrar contact information such as phone number, fax, and email, but creation date and server information as well.
Whois Data must be updated annually, and any false information provided by the registrar can result in the cancellation of the associated domain name. It is up to the registrar to keep this information accurate and up to date. It is also important to note that registrars must be accredited by ICANN in order to register any domain name.
Here is how you can determine who hosts the website you are visiting.
Who's Hosting: InterNIC
InterNIC, run by the US Department of Commerce, is a site built to store information available to the public regarding web hosting companies and the sites they host. Simply head to the InterNIC website, and click “Domain.” Type in the address of the website in question minus the “http://” and “www,” click submit, and InterNIC displays every detail about the site: “Registrar” is the web hosting company in charge of managing the site; “Whois Server” is the web address of the hosting company.
To display contact details, head to the web hosting company's site directly, or use the “Search Again” box at the top of the page by copying and pasting the registrar's name inside, assuring you select the “Registrar” option rather than “Domain.”
Who's Hosting: Whois.net
Whois.net is another big name in the world of revealing website hosting company details. As with InterNIC, type the domain name (everything that comes between the “www.” and “.com”) directly into the “WHOIS” search box. Click “Go,” and if you scroll down to “Registrar Name,” you'll be treated to the name of the web hosting company. Along with the name of the company, you'll see phone number, address, and email address for the registrar.
Other sites out there provide a comparable service, such as the Whois page on NetworkSolutions.com, whois.domaintools.com, and Who.is.
Who's Hosting: What To Do With The Information
So you've discovered who hosts the site in question. Now what? Use the provided contact information and bring your problem directly to the registrar, so that they may correct the problem.
What if it's a serious offense? Issues like theft of content, spamming, or a site committing identity theft will lead to the web hosting company shutting down the site.
If you just cannot get in touch with the registrar directly, or worse — the registrar is not following Whois policy (the Registrar Accreditation Agreement) or complying with ICANN — bring your problem directly to InterNIC. They will investigate and take action to correct the inaccurate data.