Skip to main content

RDS-WHOIS2 Review Team Submits Terms of Reference and Work Plan

The Registration Directory Service Review Team (RDS-WHOIS2) developed and submitted its terms of reference and corresponding work plan to the ICANN Board to ensure that the team's scope and timeline is consistent with the requirements of the ICANN Bylaws.1

As the team enters its fact-finding phase, we welcome community input on our planned approach.

Where will the review focus?

After carefully considering ICANN Bylaws for the RDS-WHOIS2 Review (Section 4.6(e)) and receiving input for a limited scope proposal from Supporting Organizations (SOs) and Advisory Committees (ACs), the review team agreed to the following scope:

  • The review team will:
    • Evaluate the extent to which the ICANN organization has implemented each prior Directory Service Review recommendation.
    • Assess, to the degree practical, the extent to which implementation of each recommendation was effective in addressing the issue identified by the prior review team, or generated additional information useful to management and evolution of WHOIS (RDS).
    • Determine if any specific measurable steps should be recommended to enhance results achieved through the prior review team's recommendations.
  • Inventory changes made to WHOIS (RDS) policies and procedures since the completion of the prior review to identify significant new areas and determine if any specific measurable steps should be recommended to enhance effectiveness in those new areas.
  • Assess the extent to which the implementation of today's WHOIS (the current gTLD RDS):
    • Meets legitimate needs of law enforcement for swiftly accessible, accurate and complete data.
    • Promotes consumer trust in gTLD domain names.
    • Safeguards registrant data.
  • Assess the effectiveness and transparency of ICANN enforcement of existing policy relating to WHOIS (RDS) through Contractual Compliance actions, structure and processes.

Further possible areas were considered (e.g., OECD Guidelines on the Protection of Privacy and Transborder Flows of Personal Data, WHOIS protocol replacement by RDAP) but are not expected to be areas of focus as these are being addressed through other on-going efforts such as the RDS Policy Development Process (PDP).

In recognition that the WHOIS landscape will be changing, perhaps radically, over the coming months as ICANN addresses how it will respond to the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the review team may choose to defer some or all of its work in relation to assessing the effectiveness of today's WHOIS until it is clearer what path ICANN will be following.

Finally, the team will review and identify any suggested amendments to ICANN Bylaws Section 4.6(e) which mandates this periodic review.

What are the next steps for the review team?

Several subgroups were formed to conduct detailed fact-finding with the objective of producing draft findings and recommendations for review team discussion at its face-to-face meeting in Brussels (16-17-18 April 2018). The review team will consider these findings and recommend specific measureable steps (if any) it believes are important to fill gaps.

How can people get involved in the RDS-WHOIS2 Review?

Visit the RDS-WHOIS2 Review wiki page for the latest news, updates, and opportunities to participate. Here you can learn how to become and RDS-WHOIS2 observer, how to share your expertise on RDS/WHOIS issues, and how to subscribe to the RDS-WHOIS2 mailing list for calendar invites, agendas, and "read only" access to mailing list exchanges.

The review team plans to conduct outreach at every key step – read our outreach plan for more information.

Looking ahead, the review team expects to hold public sessions and/or webinars to help the community learn about the objectives of this Review and how to get involved. The review team expects to hold a community consultation at ICANN62 to update the community on its objectives and progress-to-date and welcome community input.

1 See ICANN Board resolution 2017.02.03.10


    Domain Name System
    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"""" is not an IDN."