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Data Protection and Privacy Issues

Data privacy and data protection regulations are currently undergoing developments that may impact specific areas of the ICANN organization's work. This page contains a current listing of ongoing projects at the ICANN organization related to data protection and privacy matters, and is intended to provide easy access to this information.

European Union General Data Protection Regulation

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was adopted by the European Union (EU) on 14 April 2016 and took effect on 25 May 2018 uniformly across the EU countries. According to the European Commission, the aim of the GDPR is to protect all EU citizens and residents from privacy and data breaches1. It applies to all companies processing and holding the personal data of subjects residing in the European Union, regardless of the company's location. More information is available here.

The ICANN organization executives, subject matter experts from various departments, and Board members are guiding the organization's activities related to the GDPR.

Contractual Compliance with Registry and Registrar Agreements

On 17 May 2018, the ICANN Board of Directors (ICANN Board) adopted by resolution the Temporary Specification for gTLD Registration Data. The Temporary Specification provides a single, unified interim model that ensures a common framework for handling registration data, including registration directory services (e.g. WHOIS). It aims to ensure the continued availability of WHOIS to the greatest extent possible while maintaining the security and stability of the Internet's system of unique identifiers.

Engagement Activities Related to GDPR

The ICANN organization engages in a range of forums and with a range of stakeholders on issues relating to ICANN's mission, including privacy and law enforcement, and the interdependent issues. The ICANN organization's engagement strategy can be described as involving: 1) awareness, including privacy-related aspects of ICANN's work such as WHOIS and associated procedures; and 2) educational awareness and capacity building on policy development, technical coordination and their implementation. ICANN will continue to engage with the European community (including the European Data Protection Board), data protection agencies, and other relevant stakeholders to gain a better understanding of the relevant aspects of GDPR related to the work of the ICANN organization and its' contracts with registries and registrars.

If you have questions, please direct them to Refer to the following information for additional details about this work:

GNSO Policy Development Processes and Implementation

The Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) has ongoing policy development processes related to data protection and privacy matters. Refer to the GNSO active projects list for more information.

WHOIS Conflicts Procedure

Additionally, in response to a GNSO Council request, the ICANN organization has commenced an assessment of the revised ICANN Procedure for Handling WHOIS Conflicts with Privacy Law, which was made effective on 18 April 2017.

Reference Documents


Domain Name System
Internationalized Domain Name ,IDN,"IDNs are domain names that include characters used in the local representation of languages that are not written with the twenty-six letters of the basic Latin alphabet ""a-z"". An IDN can contain Latin letters with diacritical marks, as required by many European languages, or may consist of characters from non-Latin scripts such as Arabic or Chinese. Many languages also use other types of digits than the European ""0-9"". The basic Latin alphabet together with the European-Arabic digits are, for the purpose of domain names, termed ""ASCII characters"" (ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange). These are also included in the broader range of ""Unicode characters"" that provides the basis for IDNs. The ""hostname rule"" requires that all domain names of the type under consideration here are stored in the DNS using only the ASCII characters listed above, with the one further addition of the hyphen ""-"". The Unicode form of an IDN therefore requires special encoding before it is entered into the DNS. The following terminology is used when distinguishing between these forms: A domain name consists of a series of ""labels"" (separated by ""dots""). The ASCII form of an IDN label is termed an ""A-label"". All operations defined in the DNS protocol use A-labels exclusively. The Unicode form, which a user expects to be displayed, is termed a ""U-label"". The difference may be illustrated with the Hindi word for ""test"" — परीका — appearing here as a U-label would (in the Devanagari script). A special form of ""ASCII compatible encoding"" (abbreviated ACE) is applied to this to produce the corresponding A-label: xn--11b5bs1di. A domain name that only includes ASCII letters, digits, and hyphens is termed an ""LDH label"". Although the definitions of A-labels and LDH-labels overlap, a name consisting exclusively of LDH labels, such as"""" is not an IDN."