2015 was a banner year for ICANN in the area of WHOIS improvements. Today, ICANN published the 2015 Annual Report [PDF, 1.06 MB], which showcases those achievements and describes ICANN's progress against the recommendations from the 2012 Review Team. ICANN is also preparing for the next review team to be convened in late 2016.
Several important advances occurred in 2015 including:
Accuracy: The launch of the Accuracy Reporting System (ARS) brought greater transparency into WHOIS accuracy rates. ICANN converted a pilot project to an ongoing activity to improve accuracy of WHOIS. Expect to see recurring reports published in 2016 on syntactic and operational accuracy levels.
Privacy: The GNSO tackled the difficult topic of privacy and proxy services [PDF, 1.24 MB], and produced a comprehensive policy framework to support the creation of a new accreditation program for these services. If adopted, these policies prescribe minimum standards and service levels to benefit consumers of these services. The Board will consider these recommendations for adoption in 2016, as new consensus policies applicable to all gTLDs.
National laws on privacy play an important role in the transfer of personal data as it relates to WHOIS. The community made progress in its review to address the conflicts between national privacy laws and the triggers identified to invoke ICANN's national law conflict procedure. In 2016, the changes proposed by the Implementation Advisory Group (IAD) report will be considered for approval by the GNSO Council and ultimately, the Board.
Internationalization: The effort to internationalize WHOIS produced several important developments:
- The conclusion of the Internationalized Registration Data (IRD) expert's group work to develop requirements for a data model to accommodate registration data in local languages or scripts
- The GNSO concluded a policy development process (PDP) on translation and transliteration [PDF, 984 KB] (TnT) of contact data. This group produced a new policy to enable the voluntary translation and transliteration of WHOIS data. The ICANN Board adopted this new consensus policy.
- The implementation of a new IETF Registry Data Access Protocol or "RDAP" as it is known, which is a standardized replacement for WHOIS. Work is underway to develop the RDAP Operational Profile for gTLD Registries and Registrars, which both IRD and TnT are dependent on.
While 2015 resulted in many improvements to WHOIS, work continues on a separate front; namely, determining whether to reinvent WHOIS and replace it with a next generation system. Work is actively underway at the GNSO to consider this issue. This long term project may lead to a comprehensive new policy framework to support the transition to a next generation system for registration directory services that better serves the Community's needs for accuracy and improved access, while at the same time, addressing data protection and privacy concerns.
For more details and updates on implementation progress, please look at the WHOIS quarterly implementation reports, or visit the AoC WHOIS Implementation Wiki where you can learn about planning for the second WHOIS Review Team to be convened.