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ICANN Opens Public Comment for RA and RAA Amendments

6 September 2022

On 6 September 2022, ICANN org opened a Public Comment proceeding for the proposed amendments to the base generic top-level domain (gTLD) Registry Agreement (RA) and 2013 Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA) to specify operational requirements for providing Registration Data Directory Services (RDDS) via the Registration Data Access Protocol (RDAP). The proposed amendments also detail the sunset of certain obligations for registries and registrars to provide RDDS via the WHOIS protocols.

To be clear, the Registration Data Directory Services, commonly known as the "WHOIS System" or "WHOIS Services," will continue to be provided by the gTLD registries and ICANN-accredited registrars in accordance with ICANN consensus policies. As previously communicated, the proposed amendments are the culmination of a long standing commitment to the Internet community to improve the WHOIS System by replacing the WHOIS protocols with a better underlying technology based in part on the advice of the Security and Stability Advisory Committee in SAC051.

The RDAP protocol makes access to data from the WHOIS System more secure and provides many advantages over the current WHOIS protocols. Some of the benefits of RDAP include standardized queries, secure access to data, extensibility, differentiated access, support for internationalization of registration data, and enabling search for objects. The scalable technical architecture will also be able to accommodate any new and future policy-driven functionality requirements. All contracted parties have been required to provide RDDS over RDAP for all gTLD domain names since 26 August 2019.

ICANN org and members of the gTLD Registries Stakeholder Group (RySG) and Registrars Stakeholder Group (RrSG), collectively the Contracted Party House Negotiating Team (CPH NT), negotiated to develop the amendments to the RA and the RAA. The proposed amendments incorporate:

  • The reporting and service level requirements for RDAP.
  • The gTLD RDAP Profile as a requirement that provides the technical instructions to gTLD registries and registrars on how to implement an RDAP service in a consistent way and compliant with ICANN consensus policies.
  • The sunset of obligations to provide the WHOIS protocols (i.e., WHOIS port-43 and web-based WHOIS).
  • A change to the language of Specification 4, Section 3.1 that will enable ICANN org to use the existing Bulk Registration Data Access for research purposes in order to develop a robust, reliable, and reproducible methodology for analyzing security threat activity (domain abuse), which the ICANN community may use to make informed policy decisions.

When negotiating these changes, ICANN org and the CPH NT made sure to define a plan that would allow users time to prepare their systems and procedures to utilize the RDAP protocol to look up registration data for domain names as they do today using the WHOIS protocols.

ICANN org would like to thank the members of the RySG and the RrSG who thoughtfully negotiated the respective contractual obligations for their extraordinary dedication throughout this process. We encourage the ICANN community to review the proposed amendments and provide feedback via the Public Comment process. If you would like to engage further with ICANN org and the Contracted Party House Negotiating Team on this topic, please join the CPH RA/RAA Amendments to Add RDAP session at ICANN75 on Tuesday, 20 September 2022 at 08:30 UTC.


Russ Weinstein

Russ Weinstein

VP GDD Accounts and Services