In case you didn’t listen to or attend the WHOIS Expert Working Group’s (EWG) “Next Generation Registration Directory Service (RDS)” discussion in Durban at ICANN47 this morning, here are a few takeaways:

  • The Internet community is witnessing the beginning stages of a paradigm transition of WHOIS, and the focus is on who needs what data – and why. The consensus/messaging was that the “Status quo is not an option” (which, if one wants to speculate, could mean more record keeping and other additional responsibilities for registries).
  • Balancing privacy concerns with law enforcement concerns (like jurisdiction) – while also improving data accuracy and ensuring accountability – are the key issues to be discussed and resolved through this “paradigm shift”.
  • EWG acknowledges that some committees in the Internet Community, like the GAC, may be wary of certain proposed changes to WHOIS.

During the discussion phase of the meeting, participants voiced concerns over a wide variety of issues – from how the central repository would create a “single point of failure” and the possibility of additional contractual responsibilities for registries, to concerns regarding multiple jurisdictions and Aggregated RDS (ARDS).

However, all concerns raised during the meeting can be traced back to the need and desire to improve privacy, accuracy, and accountability of WHOIS. While arriving at and implementing a new WHOIS (such as defining what “accountability” means in the WHOIS context) will be challenging, the EWG’s Initial Report on gTLD Directory Services and the follow-up discussion with the community that occurred today are steps in the right direction.

Conference room in Durban taken by our colleagues on the ground at ICANN 47.
Conference room in Durban taken by our colleagues on the ground at ICANN 47.
Josh Bourne
While You Were Out: WHOIS Expert Working Group Discussion

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