Purpose: This public comment proceeding seeks to obtain community input on the proposed implementation of the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) Thick Whois Policy Development Process (PDP) recommendation requiring the provision of thick Whois services for all gTLD registries.
Current Status: The Thick Whois PDP Working Group delivered its Final Report to the GNSO Council on 21 October 2013. The GNSO Council adopted the report and its recommendations on 31 October 2013. The ICANN Board adopted the recommendations of the Thick Whois PDP Working Group on 7 February 2014.
ICANN staff, in conjunction with the Implementation Review Team (IRT), worked together to develop consensus policies to implement the Thick Whois Policy Recommendations. The Thick Whois Policy Recommendation stating “The provision of thick Whois services, with a consistent labelling and display as per the model outlined in specification 3 of the 2013 RAA, should become a requirement for all gTLD registries, both existing and future” is being implemented in two parts; Part 1 addresses the “consistent labelling and display” requirement, and Part 2 addresses the “provision of thick Whois services” requirement.
Part 1 of this policy was announced on 26 July 2016 as Registry Registration Data Directory Services Consistent Labeling and Display Policy (CL&D Policy). However, on 9 August 2016, the Registry Stakeholder Group (RySG) submitted a Request for Reconsideration regarding the CL&D Policy. The RySG asserted that the scope of the CL&D Policy was improperly expanded to include a requirement for registries to implement Registration Data Access Protocol (RDAP). ICANN worked with the IRT to address this matter, and published a Revised Proposed CL&D Policy for public comment on 21 October 2016. The revised draft proposes to delete provision 12, which states that, “The implementation of an RDAP service in accordance with the "RDAP Operational Profile for gTLD Registries and Registrars" is required for all gTLD registries in order to achieve consistent labeling and display”.
Part 2 of this policy, which is presented here, addresses the provision of thick Whois services requirement outlining the implementation for gTLDs currently providing thin Whois services (i.e. .COM, .NET and .JOBS) to transition to thick Whois.
Next Steps: ICANN staff will review the comments received in collaboration with the IRT to determine whether any changes need to be made to the proposed implementation as a result of the input received. Subsequently, the current Draft Thick Registration Data Directory Services (Whois) Consensus Policy will be finalized and the implementation effective date will be announced. In addition, education and outreach materials will be prepared to accompany the implementation.
Section I: Description and Explanation
On 7 February 2014, the ICANN Board adopted GNSO consensus policy recommendations regarding the use of “thick” Whois by all gTLD registries. In consultation with the GNSO Implementation Review Team (IRT), which was formed as directed by the GNSO Council to work with ICANN staff to ensure that the resultant implementation fulfills the intentions of the approved policy recommendations, ICANN staff has identified two expected outcomes in the PDP recommendations:
- Part 1: The consistent labeling and display of Whois output for all gTLDs (originating from Recommendation #1)
- Part 2: The transition from thin to thick Whois for .COM, .NET and .JOBS (originating from Recommendations #1 and Recommendation #3)
This public comment period focuses on the proposed implementation of the second outcome concerning the transition from thin to thick Whois for .COM, .NET and .JOBS. As part of the implementation of the transition from thin to thick Whois, the GNSO consensus policy recommendations required ICANN to undertake a legal review of privacy laws that may be applicable to transitioning from a thin Whois model to a thick Whois model building off the previous legal analysis undertaken as part of the Whois Expert Working Group. The analysis undertaken did not reveal any additional privacy issues not already considered by the Expert Working Group that would be implicated in the transition of data from a thin to a thick Whois model. The Implementation Review Team considered this analysis as part of its work to develop the proposed implementation of the policy.
For this Consensus Policy, Thin and Thick Registration Data are defined as follows:
- Thin (Registration): domain name for which the Registry Operator maintains and provides only technical information (e.g., name servers, statuses, creation date) and the Sponsoring Registrar associated with the domain name. Contact information for these domain names is maintained by the sponsoring Registrar.
- Thick (Registration): domain name for which the Registry Operator stores all the registration data elements that enable it to comply with WHOIS (available via port 43) and web-based directory services requirements described in Section 1 of Specification 4 of the "Base Registry Agreement approved on 9 January 2014" ("Base Registry Agreement") and the Registry Registration Data Directory Services Consistent Labeling and Display Policy.
To date, ICANN Staff in collaboration with the IRT has taken the following steps to guide the implementation:
- Planned synchronized implementation of this requirement with the Registry Data Access Protocol (RDAP) Operational Profile for gTLD Registries and Registrars in order to minimize impact on affected parties by allowing potential economies of scale in development efforts
- Published a Legal Review Memorandum of privacy laws that may be applicable to transitioning from a thin to a thick Whois model (8 June 2015): Review of Law Applicable to the Transition of Data from a Thin to Thick Whois Model
ICANN staff and the GNSO Implementation Review Team are now looking for input on the implementation proposal contained in the Thick Whois Transition Policy for .COM, .NET and .JOBS, requiring the Registry Operators to deploy an EPP mechanism and an alternative bulk transfer mechanism for registrars to migrate registration data for Existing Domain Names so that Registrars can migrate to the relevant Registry Operator all required fields of Existing Domain Names that are available in the Registrar database that enable the Registry Operator to comply with WHOIS (available via port 43) and web-based directory services requirements.
The Thick Whois Transition Policy for .COM, .NET and .JOBS, subject to this public comment period, is composed of Consensus Policy language and Implementation Notes. Two concurrent implementations with effective dates are described:
- New Registration: All new domain name registrations MUST be submitted as Thick starting as of 1 May 2018 at the latest.
Existing Registration: All registration data for Existing Domain Names must have been migrated from Thin to Thick by 1 February 2019 at the latest.
Section II: Background
ICANN specifies Whois service requirements through Registry Agreements (RAs) and the Registrar Accreditation Agreements (RAAs) for the generic top-level domain (gTLD) registries. Registries have historically satisfied their Whois obligations under two different models. The two models are often characterized as “thin” and “thick” Whois registries.
This distinction is based on how two distinct sets of data are maintained. WHOIS contains two kinds of data about a domain name:
- one set of data is associated with the domain name (this information includes data sufficient to identify the sponsoring registrar, status of the registration, creation and expiration dates for each registration, name server data, the last time the record was updated in the Registry database, and the URL for the registrar’s Whois service),
- a second set of data that is associated with the registrant of the domain name.
In a thin registration model the Registry only collects the information associated with the domain name from the Registrar. The Registry in turn publishes that information along with maintaining certain status information at the Registry level. Registrars maintain data associated with the registrant of the domain and provide it via their own Whois services, as required by Section 3.3 of the RAA for those domains they sponsor.
In a thick registration model the Registry collects both sets of data (domain name and registrant) from the Registrar and in turn publishes that data via Whois.
The Thick Whois PDP Working Group was tasked to provide the GNSO Council with a policy recommendation regarding the use of ‘thick’ Whois by all gTLD Registries, both existing and future.
As part of its deliberations on this issue, the PDP Working Group considerations included the following elements (among many others):
- Whois Response consistency
- Accessibility of Whois information by consumers, intellectual property owners and other users of Whois data
- Cost implications for contracted parties
- Impact of synchronization/migration on registries and registrars WHOIS and EPP systems
- Competition in registry services
- Existing Whois Applications
For additional information on the Background of the Thick Whois PDP Recommendations, please refer to the Thick Whois PDP Final Report.
Section III: Relevant Resources
- Draft Thick Whois Transition Policy for .COM, .NET and .JOBS [PDF, 66 KB]
- [RESCINDED] Registry Registration Data Directory Services Consistent Labeling and Display Policy
- Public Comment Proceeding (21 October 2016): Revised Proposed Implementation of GNSO Thick Whois Consensus Policy Requiring Consistent Labeling and Display of RDDS (Whois) Output for All gTLDs
- Thick Whois Policy Implementation Documentation, including Thick Whois Consistent Labeling and Display Impact Assessment and Detailed Analysis of Impact on current Whois Output of all gTLDs (completed as part of Staff and IRT Implementation work)
- Thick Whois Policy Development Process Documentation, including the Thick Whois PDP Final Report
- Legal Review Memorandum of privacy laws that may be applicable to transitioning from a thin to a thick Whois model (8 June 2015): Review of Law Applicable to the Transition of Data from a Thin to Thick Whois Model
- Legal analysis undertaken as part of the Expert Working Group on gTLD Registration Data (29 August 2013): Data Protection Considerations Applicable to the Collection of gTLD registration data in the Proposed Centralized and Federated Database Systems