November 17th, 2011

Domain registry for the US?

Okay, so, I'm from Europe. Germany, to be exact, and here we have something called DENIC where you have to register every domain and give your contact data. We also have something called an "Impressum" that needs to give that data on every website. Long story short, in Germany, it's fairly easy to get hold of a website's owner, if the law is followed.

My question is, how's that handled in the US? I googled and found WHOIS and ICANN, but is either of these mandatory/required for every website? If I need a character to find out name and address of the owner of a shady website, of the sort that probably wouldn't give it freely, how can I go about that?

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Setting of the fic is, obviously, modern day US; the federal state doesn't matter much if there are differences.