Public Comments needed for ICANN Thick Whois Policy Development Process

Current Status:

The Thick Whois PDP Working Group delivered its Final Report [PDF, 1.23 MB] to the GNSO Council on 21 October 2013. The report and its recommendations were adopted unanimously by the GNSO Council on 31 October. As required by the ICANN Bylaws, public notice is hereby provided of the policies that are considered for adoption as well as an opportunity to comment on the adoption of the proposed policies, prior to consideration by the ICANN Board of these recommendations.
Next Steps:

ICANN Staff will prepare a summary of the public comments received that will be submitted to the Board in conjunction with the Thick Whois recommendations adopted by the GNSO Council.

Detailed Information
Section I: Description, Explanation, and Purpose:

The Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) unanimously approved at its meeting on 31 October 2013 the recommendation of the Thick Whois PDP Working Group, which are pending for Board action.  The GNSO Council recommends that:

  • The provision of thick Whois services, with a consistent labeling and display as per the model outlined in specification 3 of the 2013 RAA1, should become a requirement for all gTLD registries, both existing and future.

As part of this public comment forum, specific input on any considerations related to the transition from thin to thick Whois that would need to be taken into account as part of the implementation process is requested. Furthermore, the GNSO Council has recommended that a legal review of law applicable to the transition of data from a thin to thick model that has not already been considered in the EWG memo2 is undertaken and due consideration is given to potential privacy issues that may arise from the discussions on the transition from thin to thick Whois, including, for example, guidance on how the long-standing contractual requirement that registrars give notice to, and obtain consent, from each registrant for uses of any personally identifiable data submitted by the registrant should apply to registrations involved in the transition. Should any privacy issues emerge from these transition discussions that were not anticipated by the Thick Whois WG and which would require additional policy consideration, the GNSO Implementation Review Team, that would be created after Board adoption of the recommendation, is expected to notify the GNSO Council of these so that appropriate action can be taken.

1 http://www.icann.org/en/resources/registrars/raa/approved-with-specs-27jun13-en.htm#whois

2 See http://forum.icann.org/lists/gnso-thickwhoispdp-wg/pdfLtpFBYQqAT.pdf [PDF, 1.47 KB]

Section II: Background:

ICANN specifies Whois service requirements for generic top-level domain (gTLD) registries through the Registry Agreement (RA) and the Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA).  Registries and registrars satisfy their Whois obligations using different service models. 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 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 regarding the use of thick Whois by all gTLD Registries at its meeting on 22 September 2011. The Issue Report was expected to ‘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’. Following the delivery of the Final Issue Report, the GNSO Council initiated a Policy Development Process at its meeting of 14 March 2012. The Thick Whois PDP Working Group published its Initial Report [PDF, 1.21 MB] for public comment on 21 June 2013. Following review of the comments received, the WG revised its report accordingly and submit the final version on 31 October 2013 to the GNSO Council.

Section III: Document and Resource Links:
Section IV: Additional Information:


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