[dow3tf] Summary of current impasse
Dear Task Force 3 members,
Can you please review the following summary of our current impasse and let me know if you think there are mis-statements or mis-representations. If there are things you would like to qualify, please notify me. I will need your comments by Tuesday evening, California time, and on Wednesday morning I will forward my note to the Council.
This is intended to give the GNSO Council a sense of what the core disagreements are that are preventing agreement and consensus.
Whois Task Force 3 was initially tasked with exploring "mechanisms to improve the quality of contact data that must be collected at the time of registration."
In addition to researching possible means of introducing data verification into the registration process, the Task Force was also asked to "determine what verification mechanisms can be used cost effectively to combat the deliberate provision of false information, and determine whether additional mechanisms are necessary to provide traceability of registrants, or provide for more timely responses for misuse of domain names associated with deliberately false information." It is this last milestone that has taken most of the attention of the Task Force, and where the greatest degree of separation between parities exists.
The key issues here have been articulated as concerning two points:
1) Cost-benefit discussions
The basic disagreement in the Task Force has to do with the relative cost and benefit of taking certain actions for ensuring accuracy in the Whois db. The Registrar's Constituency has made it clear that they will not support the cost of new requirements or services that will require adding resources if there is no relative benefit to them. Benefit can be defined in a number of ways, but in this case the Registrars hold that the Whois data reminder policy, and the WDPRS are sufficient services for identifying and managing patently or potentially false registrations, and that adding additional verification requirements doesn't improve their service as Registrars, and doesn't benefit their business.
Conversely, the IP Constituency, with support from the Business and ISP Constituencies would like to see expedited verification services, given that verification of data at the time of registration seems to be currently unfeasible. They see benefit in being able to readily verify the ownership of a domain, or to verify that the information is inaccurate, and therefore have the domain put on hold. Both actions of verification (proof of ownership or proof of falsity) benefit these users by enabling them to effectively deal with "bad actors" who may be hurting their business.
The Registrars would consider expedited verification services, but only if they are able to recover the costs of such a service from those requesting it. Their argument is that since they are not the beneficiaries of increased accuracy, they shouldn't have to bear the cost.
2) A related question that has emerged from the cost-benefit issue is what is the purpose of increasing accuracy in the Whois database?
If the key purpose, as discussed in the Description of Work, is to allow for greater tracking of "bad actors" associated with providing false or inaccurate data, then this would indicate a relatively small number of investigations (compared to the extensive number of domain registrations), and the concentration of resources in a manner that would support expedited research of problem reports, and more rapid, conclusive penalties for providing false data.
If the concern is to have the overall database be as accurate as possible, this would indicate a more flexible, registrant-oriented approach that allows ample time for verifying data, such as the annual Whois data reminder policy. Keeping the Whois db as up to date as possible overall also means allowing for the inevitable inaccuracies that occur in any registration database, such as when people move or change phone numbers or email addresses, and take their time in updating non-urgent accounts.
Choosing which is the higher priority, tracking "bad actors" or maintaining overall accuracy will direct the ongoing discussion of cost-benefit ratios, and who should assume the costs and who gains the most benefit.