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Call for Volunteers for Implementation Advisory Group to Review Existing ICANN Procedure for Handling WHOIS Conflicts with Privacy Laws

In Brief

ICANN seeks volunteers to serve on an Implementation Advisory Group (IAG) to review and suggest potential changes to the implementation of the ICANN Procedure for Handling WHOIS Conflicts with Privacy Laws (the Procedure.)

What This Team Will Do

The IAG will work with ICANN staff on reviewing the current steps of the Procedure and identifying possible changes to the procedure to facilitate resolution of issues where WHOIS requirements conflict with applicable laws. The IAG is expected to explore whether any of the Procedure's elements ought to be amended in order to strike this balance. Any recommended changes made will need to be in line with the Procedure's underlying policy, which was adopted by the GNSO Council in 2005. As a result, recommended changes to the implementation of the procedure, if any, will be shared with the GNSO Council to ensure that these do not conflict with the intent of the original policy recommendations.

How This Team Will Work

Like other ICANN working groups, the Implementation Advisory Group will use transparent, open processes. The meetings of the IAG are expected to take place via conference calls which will be recorded, and the recordings will be available to the public. Initially, it is expected the group will meet once every two weeks, but the IAG will then determine its preferred schedule and methodology. The mailing list for the IAG will be archived publicly. Observers are welcome to join the mailing list to monitor the discussions. These observers will receive emails from the group, but will not be able to post messages or attend meetings. IAG members are expected to submit Statements of Interest (SOI). The group will collaborate using a public workspace.

How To Join

ICANN invites interested parties to join the IAG, which will be open to anyone interested to join. ICANN urges interested community members willing to work on this initiative and with a range of views to join and contribute to the group's work. As noted above, you can join the IAG either as a member or an observer. Please contact whois-iag-volunteers@icann.org if you wish to join the IAG.

Background

In November 2005, the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) concluded a policy development process (PDP) on WHOIS conflicts with privacy law which recommended that "In order to facilitate reconciliation of any conflicts between local/national mandatory privacy laws or regulations and applicable provisions of the ICANN contract regarding the collection, display and distribution of personal data via the gTLD WHOIS service, ICANN should:

  1. Develop and publicly document a procedure for dealing with the situation in which a registrar or registry can credibly demonstrate that it is legally prevented by local/national privacy laws or regulations from fully complying with applicable provisions of its ICANN contract regarding the collection, display and distribution of personal data via WHOIS.
  2. Create goals for the procedure which include:
    1. Ensuring that ICANN staff is informed of a conflict at the earliest appropriate juncture;
    2. Resolving the conflict, if possible, in a manner conducive to ICANN's Mission, applicable Core Values, and the stability and uniformity of the WHOIS system;
    3. Providing a mechanism for the recognition, if appropriate, in circumstances where the conflict cannot be otherwise resolved, of an exception to contractual obligations to those registries/registrars to which the specific conflict applies with regard to collection, display and distribution of personally identifiable data via WHOIS; and
    4. Preserving sufficient flexibility for ICANN staff to respond to particular factual situations as they arise".

The ICANN Board adopted the recommendations in May 2006 and the final Procedure was made effective in January 2008. Although to date no registrar or registry operator has formally invoked the Procedure, concerns have been expressed both by public authorities as well as registrars and registry operators concerning potential conflicts between WHOIS contractual obligations and local law.

Given that the WHOIS Procedure has not been invoked and yet numerous concerns have arisen from contracted parties and the wider community, ICANN launched a review as part of the Procedure. The review was launched with the publication of a paper for public comment on 22 May 2014. The paper outlined the Procedure's steps and invited public comments on a series of questions. The body of public comment was analyzed by ICANN staff, and the proposed next step is the formation of an IAG to consider changes to how the Procedure is enacted and used. ICANN staff found common themes among some of the suggestions in the public comments, which may allow for changes to implementation of the Procedure in line with the underlying policy.

On 22 September 2014, the GAC noted [PDF, 55 KB] that the issues around the WHOIS Conflicts with National Law Procedure warrant further time and attention, as they touch on significant public policy matters associated with national laws and the legitimate uses of WHOIS data. The IAG is open to participation and GAC members and other government stakeholders are encouraged to take part in the group to contribute to advancement of the work in this area.

The IAG's recommendation will then be shared with the GNSO Council to determine the next steps.


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