[ALAC] Call for volunteers - 'thick' Whois PDP WG

Alan Greenberg alan.greenberg at mcgill.ca
Wed Oct 24 14:11:42 UTC 2012

Please redistribute as think necessary.  Alan
Call for Volunteers: 'thick' Whois Policy 
Development Process (PDP) Working Group Members

Last Updated: 23 October 2012
23 October 2012

In Brief

The Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) 
Council seeks volunteers to serve on a Policy 
Development Process (PDP) Working Group (WG) that 
has been chartered to provide the GNSO Council 
with a policy recommendation regarding the use of 
'thick' Whois by all gTLD Registries, both existing and future.

What This Group Will Do

As part of its deliberations on this issue, the 
PDP WG is expected, at a minimum, to consider the 
following elements as detailed in the 
Whois Final Issue Report:
    * Response consistency: a 'thick' Registry 
can dictate the labeling and display of Whois 
information to be sure the information is easy to 
parse, and all Registrars/clients would have to 
display it accordingly. This could be considered 
a benefit but also a potential cost. This might 
also be a benefit in the context of 
internationalized registration data as even with 
the use of different scripts, uniform data 
collection and display standards could be applied.
    * Stability: in the event of a Registrar 
business or technical failure, it could be 
beneficial to ICANN and registrants to have the 
full set of domain registration contact data 
stored by four organizations (the Registry, the 
Registry's escrow agent, the Registrar, and the 
Registrar's escrow agent), which would be the case in a 'thick' registry.
    * Accessibility: is the provision of Whois 
information at the registry level under the 
'thick' Whois model more effective and 
cost-effective than a 'thin' model in protecting 
consumers and users of Whois data and intellectual property owners?
    * Impact on privacy and data protection: how 
would 'thick' Whois affect privacy and data 
protection, also taking into account the 
involvement of different jurisdictions with 
different laws and legislation with regard to 
data privacy as well as possible cross border transfers of registrant data?
    * Cost implications: what are the cost 
implications of a transition to 'thick' Whois for 
Registries, Registrars, registrants and other 
parties for all gTLDs? Conversely, what are the 
cost implications to Registries, Registrars, 
registrants and other parties if no transition is mandated?
    * Synchronization/migration: what would be 
the impact on the registry and registrar WHOIS 
and EPP systems for those Registries currently 
operating a thin registry, both in the migration 
phase to 'thick' WHOIS as well as ongoing operations?
    * Authoritativeness: what are the 
implications of a 'thin' Registry possibly 
becoming authoritative for registrant Whois data 
following the transition from a thin-registry 
model to a thick-registry model. The Working 
Group should consider the term "authoritative" in 
both the technical (the repository of the 
authoritative data) and policy (who has authority 
over the data) meanings of the word when considering this issue.
    * Competition in registry services: what 
would be the impact on competition in registry 
services should all Registries be required to 
provide Whois service using the 'thick' Whois 
model – would there be more, less or no 
difference with regard to competition in registry services?
    * Existing Whois Applications: What, if 
anything, are the potential impacts on the 
providers of third-party WHOIS-related 
applications if 'thick' WHOIS is required for all gtLDs?
    * Data escrow: 'thick' Whois might obviate 
the need for the registrar escrow program and 
attendant expenses to ICANN and registrars.
    * Registrar Port 43 Whois requirements: 
'thick' Whois could make the requirement for 
Registrars to maintain Port 43 Whois access redundant.

For further details and requirements, see the 
<https://community.icann.org/x/H4EoAg>WG Charter.

How This Group Will Work

ICANN Working Groups use transparent, open 
processes. WGs typically meet once a week by 
telephone for a minimum of one hour. The meetings 
of the WG will be recorded, and the recordings 
will be available to the public. The mailing list 
for the 'thick' Whois PDP WG will be archived 
publicly. Working Group members are expected to 
submit Statements of Interest (SOI). The group 
will collaborate using a public workspace. The WG 
is expected to follow the 
Working Group Guidelines. In addition, the WG is 
expected to follow the procedures outlined in the 
PDP Manual.

How to Join

The Council invites interested parties to provide 
names of expected participants who can then be 
added to the WG mailing list. The GNSO Council 
may also invite stakeholders and experts to join. 
Community members who wish to be invited to join 
the group should contact the 
<mailto:gnso.secretariat at icann.org?subject=Application%20to%20Join%20%27thick%27%20Whois%20PDP%20Working%20Group>GNSO 
secretariat (<mailto:gnso.secretariat at icann.org>gnso.secretariat at icann.org).


ICANN specifies Whois service requirements 
through Registry Agreements (RAs) and the 
Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA) for the 
generic top-level domain (gTLD) registries.

Registries have historically satisfied their 
Whois obligations under two different models. The 
two models are often characterized as "thin" and 
"thick" Whois registries. This distinction is 
based on how two distinct sets of data are maintained.

WHOIS contains two kinds of data about a domain 
name; one set of data is associated with the 
domain name (this information includes data 
sufficient to identify the sponsoring registrar, 
status of the registration, creation and 
expiration dates for each registration, name 
server data, the last time the record was updated 
in the Registry database, and the URL for the 
registrar's Whois service), and a second set of 
data that is associated with the registrant of the domain name.

In a thin registration model the Registry only 
collects the information associated with the 
domain name from the Registrar. The Registry in 
turn publishes that information along with 
maintaining certain status information at the 
Registry level. Registrars maintain data 
associated with the registrant of the domain and 
provide it via their own Whois services, as 
required by Section 3.3 of the RAA for those domains they sponsor.

In a thick registration model the Registry 
collects both sets of data (domain name and 
registrant) from the Registrar and in turn publishes that data via Whois.

As recommended by the Inter-Registrar Transfer 
Policy (IRTP) Part B Working Group, the GNSO 
Council asked ICANN staff to prepare an Issue 
Report on the requirement of "thick" Whois for 
all gTLDs. The Council requested that the Issue 
Report and possible subsequent Policy Development 
Process consider a possible requirement of 
"thick" Whois for all gTLDs in the context of 
IRTP and also consider any positive and/or 
negative effects likely to occur outside of IRTP 
that should be taken into account when deciding 
whether to require "thick" Whois for all 
incumbent gTLDs. ICANN staff submitted 
Final Issue Report to the GNSO Council for consideration on 2 February 2012.

At its meeting in Costa Rica last March, the GNSO 
Council initiated a Policy Development Process on 
"thick" Whois. However, considering the workload 
of the GNSO community, the GNSO Council on 12 
April resolved to delay the formation of a 
drafting team to develop a charter until December 
2012. The Council reconsidered that decision at 
its meeting in Prague in June 2012, and decided 
to move forward with the PDP. A drafting team was 
formed to develop a charter which was adopted by 
the GNSO Council at its meeting on 17 October 2012.

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