The Internet Registry Information Services (IRIS) is a protocol developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force's (IETF) Cross-Registry Internet Service Protocol (CRISP) Working Group. IRIS is intended to replace the aging Nicname/Whois protocol currently defined in RFC 954. The protocol was originally designed to address privacy concerns associated with making Whois contact information publicly available.
IRIS includes authentication mechanisms that allow for “tiered” access to WHOIS data. Under IRIS, only limited WHOIS information — such as the name and contact information for the registrar — would be available to the general public (the “bottom” tier of users). A second “top” tier implementing stricter access controls could provide more specific registrant information to a limited number of users, such as law enforcement officials conducting online fraud investigations.