ICANN’s Expert Working Group Recommends WHOIS Replacement

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Aims for Innovative, Effective Balance Between Accuracy, Access and Privacy of Registration Data for Generic Domain Names

It not only reexamines how data is collected and maintained, but also how the data is best safeguarded against illegitimate uses.

ICANN’s Expert Working Group on gTLD Directory Services (EWG) is recommending major changes to the way registrant data is provided to users.

The “Next Generation gTLD Directory Services Model” is intended to streamline the way data is retrieved and validated, and will restrict its disclosure to what it considers permissible purposes.

The system could replace the WHOIS domain name registration system and break nearly a decade-long stalemate over how generic domain names are registered and what happens to the registration data.

“It not only reexamines how data is collected and maintained,” says Jean-Francois Baril, EWG ‘s Lead Facilitator, “but also how the data is best safeguarded against illegitimate uses.”

For the first time, the creation of an aggregated registration data service is recommended. To be operated by an independent, international service provider, the proposed service would be responsible for validating and safeguarding registrant data from misuse.

“With greater accuracy comes the need for greater accountability across all stakeholders,” notes Baril.

A series of design principles are recommended, such as authenticated access credentials, before sensitive data elements can be accessed, and only for specific permissible purposes that are described in EWG’s Initial Report. The group also recommends heightened privacy protections for those registrants that are considered to be at-risk. EWG is hoping to strike an innovative, effective balance between accountability and the personal data privacy needs of at-risk Internet users.

The group hopes that this proposal will further the discussion of the future of WHOIS.

To submit your feedback on the proposal, please visit: http://www.icann.org/en/groups/other/gtld-directory-services/share-24jun13-en.htm.

Alternatively, you can email your comments to input-to-ewg(at)icann(dot)org.

The EWG is inviting the community to learn more and share their responses during its upcoming webinar, scheduled for Monday, July 8 from 15:00 – 16:00 UTC. For more information on the Webinar, please visit: http://www.icann.org/en/about/learning/webinars/gtld-directory-services-24jun13-en.htm.

The group will also be hosting an open consultation at ICANN’s upcoming Durban meeting on Monday, July 15, where community members will be able to learn more about EWG proposals and ask questions. Following the publication of a Final EWG Report, the GNSO Council is expected to evaluate the policy implications of the EWG recommendations. For more information on this forum, please visit: http://durban47.icann.org/node/39627.

To download EWG’s Initial Report, please visit: http://www.icann.org/en/groups/other/gtld-directory-services/initial-report-24jun13-en.pdf.


  • ICANN’s 47th public meeting will be held at the ICC Durban Convention Center in Durban, South Africa, from July 14 to 18. For more information, please visit: durban47.icann.org
  • The Expert Working Group on gTLD Directory Services was formed by ICANN’s CEO, Fadi Chehadé, and at the request of ICANN’s Board. Their purpose is to assist in developing solutions to the WHOIS system, a contentious issue within the ICANN community. For more information about the EWG, please visit: https://www.icann.org/en/news/announcements/announcement-14feb13-en.htm.

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