From the Wikipedia page on WHOIS:

WHOIS (pronounced as the phrase who is) is a query/response protocol that is widely used for querying databases in order to determine the registrar or assignee of an Internet resource (such as a domain name, an IP address block, or an autonomous system number).

The WHOIS system originated as a method for system administrators to obtain contact information for IP address assignments or domain name administrators. The use of the data in the WHOIS system has evolved into a variety of uses, including:

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