ICANN: Next-Generation gTLD Registration Directory Services to Replace WHOIS Preliminary Issue Report

ICANN logoBrief Overview

Purpose: This public comment proceeding seeks to obtain community input on the new Preliminary Issue Report concerning Next-Generation gTLD Registration Directory Services (RDS) to Replace WHOIS.

Current Status: This new Preliminary Issue Report on a next-generation RDS to replace WHOIS is posted for public comment and submitted to the GNSO Council in response to a request received from the ICANN Board, pursuant to a Resolution during a meeting of the ICANN Board on 26 April, 2015.

Next Steps: Following review of public comments received on this report, the Staff Manager will update the Issue Report as appropriate to reflect both public comments and any changes the EWG Process Working Group (EP-WG) may make to the Process Framework that GNSO Councilors and Board members developed as a basis for this effort. The Staff Manager will submit a summary of the public comments received together with the Final Issue Report to the GNSO Council for consideration.

Section I: Description, Explanation, and Purpose

This Preliminary Issue Report [PDF, 1.37 MB] was created in response to the Board-initiated Policy Development Process (PDP) to define the purpose of collecting, maintaining and providing access to gTLD registration data and consider safeguards for protecting that data, determining if and why a next-generation Registration Directory Service (RDS) is needed to replace WHOIS, and creating policies and coexistence and implementation guidance to meet those requirements.

This new Preliminary Issue report replaces the original Preliminary Issue Report published in March 2013. Pursuant to a Resolution during a meeting of the ICANN Board on 26 April 2015, this new report includes, amongst others, an overview of past efforts related to WHOIS policy, recommendations generated by the Expert Working Group on Next-Generation Registration Directory Services (EWG), a Process Framework for a PDP Working Group that was developed by GNSO Councilors and Board members to provide guidance on how to approach this complex set of issues, and a draft PDP Working Group Charter.

This Preliminary Issue Report introduces a detailed process framework to address the many significant and interdependent policy areas that the PDP should address, as developed in collaboration by GNSO Councilors and Board members, to structure the PDP for success. This phased process includes:

  • Establishing gTLD registration data requirements to determine if and why a next-generation RDS is needed;
  • Designing policies that detail functions that must be provided by a next-generation RDS to support those requirements; and
  • Providing guidance for how a next-generation RDS should implement those policies, coexisting with and eventually replacing legacy WHOIS.

The Preliminary Issue Report also considers the many inter-related policy areas that must be addressed if a new policy framework is to be adopted to replace the current WHOIS program. These include:

  • Users/Purposes: Who should have access to gTLD registration data and why?
  • Gated Access: What steps should be taken to control data access for each user/purpose?
  • Data Accuracy: What steps should be taken to improve data accuracy?
  • Data Elements: What data should be collected, stored, and disclosed?
  • Privacy: What steps are needed to protect data and privacy?
  • Coexistence: What steps should be taken to enable next-generation RDS coexistence with and replacement of the legacy WHOIS system?
  • Compliance: What steps are needed to enforce these policies?
  • System Model: What system requirements must be satisfied by any next-generation RDS implementation?
  • Cost: What costs will be incurred and how must they be covered?
  • Benefits: What benefits will be achieved and how will they be measured?
  • Risks: What risks do stakeholders face and how will they be reconciled?

This document is being published for public comment to seek community input particularly with regards to information that may be missing from this Preliminary Issue Report, or necessary corrections or updates to information in the Preliminary Issue Report as well as any feedback on the proposed PDP Working Group Charter. Furthermore, comments are sought on whether there are any issues that should be explored in the PDP in addition to those described above and in the Preliminary Issue Report.

Section II: Background

Created in the 1980s, the collection and publication of domain name registration data began as a service by Internet operators to identify and contact individuals or entities responsible for the operation of a network resource on the Internet – then (and still today) referred to as WHOIS.

ICANN‘s requirements for domain name registration data collection, access and accuracy for gTLD registries have undergone some important changes, including registration data publication service specifications with the 2013 RAA. Yet, after nearly 15 years of GNSO task forces, working groups, workshops, surveys and studies, comprehensive WHOIS policy reform remains the source of long-running discussion and debate. WHOIS policy and the underlying protocol are still in need of comprehensive reforms to address the significant number of issues related to gTLD registration data.

On 8 November 2012, the ICANN Board passed a resolution launching the Expert Working Group on gTLD Registration Directory Services (EWG) to help redefine the purpose of gTLD registration data and consider how to safeguard the data, and to propose a model for gTLD registration directory services (RDS) to address accuracy, privacy, and access issues.

Upon publication of the EWG’s Final Report in June 2014, an informal group of GNSO Councilors and ICANN Board Members collaborated to propose a Process Framework for structuring a GNSO PDP to successfully address these challenging issues (EP-WG). On 26 May, 2015, the ICANN Board passed a resolution adopting that Process Framework and reaffirming its 2012 request for a Board-initiated PDP to define the purpose of collecting, maintaining and providing access to gTLD registration data, and to consider safeguards for protecting data, using the recommendations in the EWG’s Final Report as an input to, and, if appropriate, as the foundation for a new gTLD policy.

Accordingly, the GNSO Council is proceeding with the Board-requested PDP, using the Framework’s 3-phase process to (1) establish gTLD registration data requirements to determine if and why a next-generation RDS is needed, (2) design policies that detail functions that must be provided by a next-generation RDS to support those requirements, and (3) provide guidance for how a next-generation RDS should implement those policies, coexisting with and eventually replacing WHOIS.

Section III: Relevant Resources

Section IV: Additional Information

This ICANN announcement was sourced from:
https://www.icann.org/public-comments/rds-prelim-issue-2015-07-13-en