At its meeting on 14 March 2012, the GNSO Council initiated a Policy Development Process (PDP) on 'thick' Whois (see http://gnso.icann.org/en/resolutions#20120314-1). Following a short delay, the GNSO Council decided at its last meeting that a group of volunteers should now be convened to draft the charter for the PDP Working Group, which is to be approved by the GNSO Council.
Task of the Drafting Team
The Drafting Team will be tasked with developing a charter for the PDP Working Group on 'thick' Whois'. The elements of the Charter should include, at a minimum, the following elements as specified in the GNSO Working Group Guidelines: Working Group identification; Mission, Purpose and Deliverables; Formation, Staffing and Organization, and; Rules of Engagement. The proposed charter will be submitted to the GNSO Council for its consideration.
If you are interested to participate, please send an email to the GNSO Secretariat (email@example.com). You will be required to complete a Statement of Interest in order to participate.
Background Information on the Issue
For the generic top-level domain (gTLD) registries, ICANN specifies Whois service requirements through the registry agreements (ICANN 2009 Registry Agreements) and the Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA). Registries satisfy their Whois obligations using different services. The two common models are often characterized as “thin” and “thick” Whois registries. This distinction is based on how two distinct sets of data are managed. One set of data is associated with the domain name, and a second set of data is associated with the registrant of the domain name. A thin registry only stores and manages the information associated with the domain name. This set 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 its Whois data store, and the URL for the registrar's Whois service. With thin registries, Registrars manage the second set of 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 3.3 for those domains they sponsor. COM and NET are examples of thin registries. Thick registries maintain and provide both sets of data (domain name and registrant) via Whois. INFO and BIZ are examples of thick registries.
The GNSO Council requested an Issue Report on 'thick' Whois at its meeting on 22 September 2011 noting that the Issue Report should 'not only consider a possible requirement of 'thick' WHOIS for all incumbent gTLDs in the context of IRTP, but should also consider any other positive and/or negative effects that are likely to occur outside of IRTP that would need to be taken into account when deciding whether a requirement of 'thick' WHOIS for all incumbent gTLDs would be desirable or not'.
The Final Issue Report was submitted by ICANN Staff on 2 February 2012 (see http://gnso.icann.org/issues/whois/final-report-thick-whois-02feb12-en.pdf) and in this report a number of issues are outlined that will need further consideration should a PDP proceed. The staff recommendation notes that staff has confirmed that the proposed issues are within the scope of the ICANN policy process and the GNSO and notes that it is reasonable from the staff's perspective to expect that further investigation of 'thick' Whois for all gTLDs would be beneficial to the community generally, as it would allow for an informed decision by the GNSO Council as to whether 'thick' Whois for all gTLDs should be required or not.
Recommended Reading for Volunteers
- Final Issue Report on 'Thick' Whois (http://gnso.icann.org/issues/whois/final-report-thick-whois-02feb12-en.pdf)
- GNSO Working Group Guidelines, including charter guidelines (http://gnso.icann.org/council/annex-1-gnso-wg-guidelines-08apr11-en.pdf)