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Call for Volunteers: New GNSO Policy Development Process (PDP) Working Group to Establish a Policy Framework for a Next-Generation gTLD Registration Directory Service to Replace WHOIS (Next-Gen RDS)

In Brief

The Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) Council seeks volunteers to serve on a PDP Working Group to establish a policy framework for a next-generation gTLD Registration Directory Service (RDS) to replace WHOIS (Next-Gen RDS). The GNSO Council approved the WG's charter on 19 November 2015, tasking this PDP to address concerns with WHOIS by creating a new policy framework capable of balancing diverse interests to meet today's needs for gTLD registration data.

What This Team Will Do

The PDP WG will use a 3-phase process defined in the approved charter [PDF, 628 KB] to (1) establish gTLD registration data requirements to determine if and why a next-generation RDS is needed, (2) design policies that detail functions that must be provided by a next-generation RDS to support those requirements, and (3) provide guidance for how a next-generation RDS should implement those policies, coexisting with and eventually replacing WHOIS.

This PDP WG will provide the GNSO Council with policy recommendations regarding the issues identified in the Final Issue Report [PDF, 1.2 MB] and as defined in the charter approved by the GNSO Council [PDF, 628 KB]. Specifically, this PDP WG is tasked with analyzing the purpose of collecting, maintaining and providing access to gTLD registration data and considering safeguards for protecting that data, determining if and why a next-generation RDS is needed to replace WHOIS, and creating policies and coexistence and implementation guidance to meet those needs.

During the first phase of this PDP, the PDP WG will, at a minimum, attempt to reach consensus recommendations regarding the questions detailed in the PDP WG's charter. The PDP WG's output will then be submitted to the GNSO Council for approval of its recommendations regarding IF and WHY a next-generation RDS is needed to replace WHOIS before moving to the next phase. If the WG concludes a new policy framework is needed, this output should include requirements to be addressed by that new framework and any next-generation RDS. However, if the WG concludes the existing WHOIS system can adequately address requirements, the WG's output should confirm this and identify any necessary changes to the WHOIS policy framework.

After Phase 1, if the GNSO Council confirms that a new policy framework and next-generation RDS are required, the PDP WG will then proceed to Phases 2 and 3, recommending a new consensus policy framework to satisfy requirements for a next-generation RDS established in Phase 1, along with any necessary coexistence and implementation guidance. Further detail regarding this 3-phase process and questions to be considered can be found in the PDP WG's charter.

How This Team Will Work

ICANN WGs use transparent, open processes. The meetings of this PDP WG will be recorded, and the recordings will be available to the public. The mailing list for the PDP WG will be archived publicly. The group will collaborate using a public workspace for draft materials and all final work products and milestones will be documented on the WG's wiki. The PDP WG is expected to follow the GNSO Working Group Guidelines [PDF, 350 KB] as well as the GNSO PDP Manual.

How to participate

There are two ways to volunteer:

  • Individual Members – anyone interested can volunteer to join the PDP WG as a WG member, regardless of whether they are members of the ICANN community. Members are expected to actively contribute to mailing list conversations as well as meetings – it is anticipated that the PDP WG will at a minimum meet on a weekly basis via teleconference. Members are expected to provide essential input to the process. Members will be required to provide a Statement of Interest (SOI).
  • Mailing list observers – for those who are merely interested in monitoring the WG's conversations, there is the possibility to sign up as a mailing list "observer" which offers read-only access to the mailing list. Mailing list observers will not be permitted to post, will not receive invitations to the various meetings or calls of the WG and will not have to complete a Statement of Interest. At any point in time, a mailing list observer can join the WG as a member simply by informing the GNSO Secretariat.

In addition, there will be opportunities to provide input through public consultations and public comment processes that the PDP WG is expected to organize.

How to Join

If you are interested in joining the WG as an individual participant or mailing list observer, please fill in the sign up form or send the Word document [DOCX, 72 KB] filled in to the GNSO Secretariat

All members and observers will be listed on the PDP WG's wiki page.

Next steps

In its motion, the GNSO Council directed that this call for volunteers be circulated as widely as possible in order to ensure broad representation and participation in the WG. This call will remain open until the WG convenes for the first time. At this juncture, it is anticipated that the PDP WG may convene online in late January 2016. Following that, regular online meetings will be scheduled in accordance with the PDP WG's work plan, which it is expected to develop as one of its first tasks.

Further information and preparation

For those interested in volunteering for this effort, you are strongly encouraged to review the following materials prior to the first meeting of the PDP WG:

Background

Created in the 1980s, WHOIS began as a service to identify and contact entities responsible for the operation of a network resource on the Internet. Over the years, ICANN's requirements for gTLD domain name registration data collection, access and accuracy have undergone some important changes. Yet, after nearly 15 years of task forces, review teams, and studies, comprehensive WHOIS policy reform remains the source of long-running discussion and debate.

In 2012, the ICANN Board launched the Expert Working Group on gTLD Registration Directory Services (EWG) to help redefine the purpose of gTLD registration data and consider how to safeguard the data, and to propose a model for gTLD registration directory services (RDS) to address accuracy, privacy, and access issues.

Upon publication of the EWG's Final Report in June, 2014, an informal group of GNSO Councilors and ICANN Board Members collaborated to propose a Process Framework for structuring a GNSO PDP to successfully address these challenging issues. This Process Framework was adopted by the Board in 2015, along with a reaffirmation of its 2012 request for a PDP to be convened to define the purpose of collecting, maintaining and providing access to gTLD registration data. The Board also asked that the PDP consider safeguards for protecting data, using the recommendations in the EWG's Final Report as an input to, and, if appropriate, as the foundation for a new gTLD policy.

In preparation for this PDP, a new Preliminary Issue Report [PDF, 1.4 MB] was published for public comment on 13 July 2015. A Final Issue Report [PDF, 1.2 MB] was subsequently published on 7 October 2015, including links to all public comments received, along with a draft charter for the PDP WG. This draft charter was approved by the GNSO Council on 19 November 2015, enabling the formation of a GNSO working group of community volunteers to progress this PDP.

More information can be found on the GNSO PDP on Next-Generation gTLD Registration Directory Service (RDS) page and the WG's wiki, including the WG's charter, inputs already provided by all SG/Cs during the public comment period, and an extensive library of foundational materials to inform the WG's deliberations. In addition, the WG will reach out to all SG/Cs for feedback on any items that they believe should be considered that may not have been specifically called out in the approved charter.

As this will be a complex multi-phase PDP, all those interested in helping to shape the policy framework for a next-generation gTLD RDS are encouraged to volunteer for this WG. Only with the help of the entire community can this WG achieve its goal of formally defining an appropriate purpose of gTLD registration data and establishing a new policy framework to enable permissible access to that data with improved privacy and accuracy.


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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""icann.org"" is not an IDN."