About one in 20 domain names—some 2.3 million Web sites—have been registered with patently false data in required contact information fields, Congressional auditors reported Wednesday.
The Government Accountability Office says those seeking to register the names of their Web sites may provide inaccurate contact information to registrars in order to hide their identities or to prevent members of the public from contacting them. Contact information is made publicly available on the Internet through a service known as Whois.
"Data accuracy in the Whois service can help law enforcement officials to investigate intellectual property misuse and online fraud, or identify the source of spam E-mail, and can help Internet operators to resolve technical network issues," Linda Koontz, GAO director of information management issues, writes in the 51-page report sent to the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property.
Koontz says much of the information appears "obviously and intentionally false without verification against any reference data."
GAO also found that 1.64 million domain names, or 3.7%, have been registered with incomplete data in one or more of the required fields. In total, GAO estimates that 3.89 million domain names, or 8.7%, had at least one instance of patently false or incomplete data in the required Whois contact information fields.