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ICANN proposes sweeping Whois changes


A report from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has recommended major changes to the way registrant data is provided to Internet users.

ICANN’s expert working group (EWG) on gTLD directory services is suggesting that the current Whois system be replaced by a “next generation solution”.

The Whois system is a protocol for recording a domain name registrant and its contact information

The report, called A next generation registration directory service, says that today’s Whois model, which gives every Internet user the same anonymous public access to gTLD registration data, should be abandoned and is “widely regarded as broken”.

It says the objectives of the new model will be “to re-examine and define the purpose of collecting and maintaining gTLD directory data, consider how to safeguard the data, and propose a next generation solution that will better serve the needs of the global Internet community”.

The EWG recommends a shift whereby gTLD registration data is collected, validated and disclosed for permissible purposes only, with some data elements being accessible only to authenticated requestors.

The proposed service would be responsible for validating and safeguarding registrant data from misuse and, if implemented, could break nearly a decade-long stalemate over how domain names are registered and what happens to the data.

Jean-Francois Baril, the EWG‘s lead facilitator, said: “It not only re-examines how data is collected and maintained, but also how the data is best safeguarded against illegitimate uses.”

“It seems like a sensible idea in principle” says Nick Bolter, partner at Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP.

Expressing that the current Whois system had a “number of flaws”, Bolter added: “It certainly seems like this would be an improvement to have a single source where we can go to obtain the information we need.

“However, it is somewhat of a concern that we may have to end up paying an authorised party, whereas before if a client came to me with a concern we could look online and now we may have restricted access to that data.

“But, overall, having a single body is a good thing and having a single source of data seems like a sensible idea.”

The EWG will 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 the EWG proposals and ask questions.

A webinar will also be held on Monday, July 8 from 3pm – 43pm UTC.

ICANN, Durban, gTLD, Whois, domain name


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