ICANN: Preliminary Issue Report on gTLD Registration Data Services

ICANN logoPurpose (Brief):This Public Forum invites comments on the Preliminary Issue Report on the gTLD registration data services [PDF, 946 KB]. The Report forms part of a ICANN Board-initiated GNSO policy development process (PDP) that aims to review the purpose and accuracy of domain name registration data and directory services, as well as its underlying technical protocol – currently also known as ‘Whois’.

Current Status:The Preliminary Issue Report explores the issue of gTLD registration data services, which includes the purpose of collecting and maintaining gTLD registration data, and solutions to improve accuracy and access to gTLD registration data. This Public Comment solicitation represents an opportunity to share perspectives on this topic as well as the contents of the Preliminary Issue Report. In parallel to this Preliminary Issue Report, the ICANN Board has convened an Expert Working Group (EWG) whose findings will feed into the Final Issue Report.
Next Steps: Following review of the public comment forum and once the Expert Working Group has concluded its work, a Final Issue Report will be published and the PDP will be initiated.
etailed Information

Section I: Description, Explanation, and Purpose:

Comprehensive ‘Whois’ policy reform remains the source of long-running discussions within the ICANN as well as wider Internet community. Any discussion of ‘Whois’ – hereafter called gTLD registration data and directory services – typically includes topics such as purpose, accuracy, availability, privacy, anonymity, cost, policing, intellectual property protection, security and malicious use and abuse.

The Board specifically called out two of these topics in its request; purpose and accuracy. With regard to purpose, at a minimum the most basic purpose, which is commonly accepted, is that gTLD registration data allows domain name holders to be contacted. However, who would be granted the right to access the data under what circumstances and contact the holder and by which means, is a set of difficult follow-up questions that need to be answered. In relation to accuracy, There are many data elements in the Whois database required under the Registry Agreements and the Registrar Accreditation Agreements; if only one of these data fields is incorrect, does that mean the Whois information is inaccurate? And how can the accuracy of data be verified and/or measured, especially considering that if data is not accurate the purpose of gathering the data might be questionable in the first place.

This Preliminary Issue report lays out in detail many of the issues mentioned above and how they relate to the gTLD registration data and directory services. In addition, it also provides an overview of many of the affected Stakeholder Groups, Constituencies, and other relevant parties. Furthermore, the Report explains in details the continuous issues with regard to accuracy and purpose of gTLD registration data services and elaborates on the need for changes to the technical aspects.

In addition to requesting the Issue Report, the Board has directed the formation of an Expert Working Group (EWG) that is currently working on a comprehensive proposal how to solve the issues surrounding the purpose and accuracy of domain registration data services. The EWG is tasked with providing concrete solutions to many (if not all) of the issues raised in this Report. In accordance with the Board’s direction, the outcome of the EWG will feed into the Final Issue Report which will form the basis for the next steps in the Policy Development Process.

Section II: Background:

After the submission of a Report drafted by the Whois Policy Review Team in 2012, the ICANN Board passed a resolution on 8 November 2012 that led to the creation of an Expert Working Group (EWG) and, in parallel, also launched a Board-initiated GNSO Policy Development Process (PDP).

ICANN‘s requirements for domain name registration data collection, access and accuracy for gTLD registries have undergone some important changes; yet after more than 12 years of GNSO task forces, working groups, workshops, surveys and studies the policy is still in need of comprehensive reforms that address the significant number of issues related to gTLD registration data services.

Following review of the public comments received, the Staff Manager will update the Issue Report as appropriate and submit a summary of the comments received together with the Final Issue Report.

Section III: Document and Resource Links:

Comment / Reply Periods

  • Comment Open Date:15 March 2013
  • Comment Close Date: 19 April 2013