Inman Real Estate News reports on a web site hosting company specializing in create websties for real estate agents, that is allegedly holding customers’ domain names ‘hostage.’  The article states that some agents ‘suspected’ that the hosting company had registered the domain names in the company’s name rather than in the agents’ names.

A domain name registrant shouldn’t have to suspect anything. Go to Internic whois and find out who the registrar is.  Go to the registrar’s whois and find out who the admin contact is.  If it’s not you, and you can’t make it you by accessing an online account with the registrar, then you don’t control the domain name.  As far as I know (and I would appreciate feedbakc on this), if you want to control a domain name then you have to control two things: (1) the email address of the administrative contact; and (2) the account with the registrar.  The tech contact controls the deployment of the domain name but the admin contact controls who the tech contact is.  The person who has the password to the account for that domain name can change the admin contact.

The entity identified in whois as the ‘organization’ to whom the name is registered is of interest but ultimately irrelevant.  The entity that can change the admin contract is, in my view, the true owner of a domain name.