The Generic Names Supporting Organization ("GNSO") Thick Whois Policy Development Process Working Group tasked with providing the GNSO Council with a policy recommendation regarding the use of 'thick' Whois by all gTLD Registries has published its Initial Report [PDF, 1.21 MB] for public comment.
Section I: Description and Explanation
The Thick Whois PDP WG 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'. Following its analysis of the different issues outlined in its Charter, including: response consistency; stability; access to Whois data; impact on privacy and data protection; cost implications; synchronization / migration; authoritativeness; competition in registry services; existing Whois applications; data escrow, and registrar Port 43 Whois requirements (see section 5 of the Initial Report), on balance the Working Group concludes that there are more benefits than disadvantages to requiring thick Whois for all gTLD registries. As a result, the Working Group recommends that:
The provision of thick Whois services should become a requirement for all gTLD registries, both existing and future.
The WG expects numerous benefits as a result of requiring thick Whois for all gTLD registries. Nevertheless, the WG recognizes that a transition of the current thin gTLD registries would affect over 120 million domain name registrations and as such it should be carefully prepared and implemented. In section 7.2 of the Initial Report, the WG outlines a number of implementation considerations. In section 7.3 of the Initial Report the WG also provides other observations that emerged from this discussion which while not directly related to the question of thin or thick did and should receive due consideration by other bodies.
The WG would like to encourage all interested parties to submit their comments and suggestions so these can be considered as the WG continues its deliberations in view of finalizing its report and recommendations in the next phase of the policy development process.
Section II: Background
ICANN specifies Whois service requirements for generic top-level domain (gTLD) registries through the Registry Agreement (RA) and the Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA). Registries and registrars satisfy their Whois obligations using different service models. The two common models are often characterized as "thin" and "thick" Whois registries. This distinction is based on how two distinct sets of data are managed. One set of data is associated with the domain name, and a second set of data is associated with the registrant of the domain name.
- A thin registry only stores and manages the information associated with the domain name. This set 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 its Whois data store, and the URL for the registrar's Whois service.
- With thin registries, registrars manage the second set of 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. COM and NET are examples of thin registries.
- Thick registries maintain and provide both sets of data (domain name and registrant) via Whois. INFO and BIZ are examples of thick registries.
The GNSO Council requested an Issue Report regarding the use of thick Whois by all gTLD Registries at its meeting on 22 September 2011. The Issue Report was expected to 'not only consider a possible requirement of thick Whois for all incumbent gTLDs in the context of IRTP, but should also consider any other positive and/or negative effects that are likely to occur outside of IRTP that would need to be taken into account when deciding whether a requirement of thick Whois for all incumbent gTLDs would be desirable or not'.
Following the delivery of the Final Issue Report, the GNSO Council initiated a Policy Development Process at its meeting of 14 March 2012.
Section III: Relevant Resources
Initial Report on the Thick Whois Policy Development Process [PDF, 1.21 MB]
Working Group Workspace - https://community.icann.org/x/whgQAg
Section IV: Additional Information