During a Special Meeting on 27 February 2023, the ICANN Board of Directors passed a resolution directing the ICANN organization (org) to develop and launch a new ticketing system to handle requests for access to nonpublic registration data related to generic top-level domains (gTLDs). The WHOIS Disclosure System, a proof of concept intended to gather usage and demand data, streamlines the process for submitting and receiving requests for nonpublic gTLD registration data for ICANN-accredited registrars. These registrars would determine if the requestor has a legitimate need for this information from entities such as law enforcement, government agencies, and intellectual property professionals.
This nonpublic data, formerly known as WHOIS information, encompasses personal data, such as a contact name, home or email address, and phone number. Once public and easily accessible, this data is not necessarily published anymore due to personal data protection regulations and requires legitimate purposes for requesting and receiving it.
The system, which will be renamed during the development process, will connect requestors seeking nonpublic registration data with the relevant ICANN-accredited registrars for gTLD domain names. The system will not deliver registration data, links, or instructions to access registration data to the requestors; all communication and data disclosure between the requestors and registrars will take place outside of the system. The registrars are solely responsible for assessing the request and making the decision of whether to disclose the requested data in accordance with local laws.
The system was proposed in response to a Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) Council request for ICANN org to implement a "proof of concept" system to gather usage and demand data that would inform community discussions and Board consideration of the Phase 2 Recommendations of the Expedited Policy Development Process (EPDP) relating to a System for Standardized Access/Disclosure. ICANN org will collect the relevant usage data for up to two years. To ensure that enough information is gathered, the resolution contains a recommendation urging the GNSO Council to promote "comprehensive" or universal use of the service among ICANN-accredited registrars and potential requestors.
In taking this resolution, the ICANN Board reviewed the WHOIS Disclosure System Design Paper, the EPDP Phase 2 Small Team's 4 April 2022 Preliminary Report to the GNSO Council, the 7 November 2022 addendum to the EPDP Phase 2 Small Team's Preliminary Report, the 17 November 2022 letter from the GNSO Council to the ICANN Board, and the recommendation from the Board Finance Committee to allocate an envelope from the Supplemental Fund for Implementation of Community Recommendations for this work. The decision also considers ICANN's Bylaws, compliance with the law, the Board's fiduciary duties, and the costs associated with initial implementation and subsequent operation of the system.
ICANN org began a three-month project ramp-up period in December 2022; implementation is expected to take 11 months. The org anticipates working closely with the EPDP Phase 2 Small Team that's advising on this process, as well as ICANN-accredited registrars, throughout development of the system.