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GNSO WHOIS Public Forum

Monday, 4 December

16:30 - 19:00

Hotel Transamérica, São Paulo

The GNSO is organizing a public forum at the beginning of ICANN's São Paulo meeting to bring together a broad cross-section of stakeholders to share recommendations, offer input, and ask questions about two separate ICANN activities relating to WHOIS services: 1) policy recommendations being prepared for GNSO Council consideration -- the GNSO WHOIS Task Force report which proposes changes in WHOIS services (Task Force members will give presentations regarding elements of the report); and 2) proposed implementation of a new consensus policy involving WHOIS and National Laws (ICANN staff will provide a briefing on the proposed implementation).

A panel will provide summaries and perspectives on these issues, coupled with extensive periods for audience participation and broad-based input.

This forum presents a critical opportunity for stakeholders to ask questions, share specific ideas, and offer guidance (especially on such critical issues as access to data -- see item 3 in the "terms of reference" included below). Please come to this forum (in person or on-line) prepared to engage on these proposals, which are being prepared for GNSO Council action.

If you have comments on the topics covered in this forum, please post to Comment archives are at


Following GNSO Council and Board adoption, a new ICANN consensus policy was created for dealing with potential conflicts between WHOIS requirements and privacy laws (that meets the GNSO’s policy development process terms of reference (5) listed below). ICANN staff is developing a proposed procedure on how ICANN will respond to a situation where a registrar or registry operator/sponsor can demonstrate that it is legally prevented by local/national privacy laws or regulations from fully complying with the provisions of its ICANN contract regarding the collection, display and distribution of personal data via WHOIS. This procedure will be posted for a public comment period, and this forum provides another opportunity for stakeholders to receive information and ask questions.

In addition, the GNSO has been conducting a policy development process (PDP) to improve the WHOIS service. Under the GNSO Council-approved PDP, the WHOIS Task Force has addressed: the purpose of the WHOIS service; the purpose of the WHOIS contacts (e.g. technical contact, admin. contact) and the purpose of the collection of data; which data should be available for public access; how to improve WHOIS data accuracy; and how to deal with conflicts between WHOIS requirements and local or national privacy laws (see the PDP terms of reference listed below). (Background information is posted at

The Task Force has issued a proposal for changing the contacts for the WHOIS service called the "Operational Point of Control" (OPoC). A second proposal addresses an approach to provide privacy in domain name registrations in special circumstances and is referred to as the "Special Circumstances Proposal." The Task Force has issued a preliminary report outlining its recommendations, and a public comment period has started. After public comments are received, the Task Force report will be finalized and sent to the GNSO Council for consideration.

An issues report was published on WHOIS by ICANN staff on 13 May 2003, and is available at

The GNSO is working to the terms of reference, which are available at A summary of the terms of reference is as follows:

The goal of the WHOIS Task Force is to improve the effectiveness of the WHOIS service in maintaining the stability and security of the Internet's unique identifier systems, whilst taking into account where appropriate the need to ensure privacy protection for the Personal Data of natural persons that may be Registered Name Holders, the authorised representative for contact purposes of a Register Name Holder, or the administrative or technical contact for a domain name.

1) Define the purpose of the WHOIS service in the context of ICANN's mission and relevant core values, international and national laws protecting privacy of natural persons, international and national laws that relate specifically to the WHOIS service, and the changing nature of Registered Name Holders.

2) Define the purpose of the Registered Name Holder, technical, and administrative contacts, in the context of the purpose of WHOIS, and the purpose for which the data was collected.

3) (i) Determine what data collected should be available for public access in the context of the purpose of WHOIS.

3) (ii) Determine how to access data that is not available for public access.

4) Determine how to improve the process for notifying a registrar of inaccurate WHOIS data, and the process for investigating and correcting inaccurate data.

5) Determine how to resolve differences between a Registered Name Holder's, gTLD Registrar's, or gTLD Registry's obligation to abide by all applicable laws and governmental regulations that relate to the WHOIS service, as well as the obligation to abide by the terms of the agreements with ICANN that relate to the WHOIS service.


Monday, 4 December
16:30 - 19:00

  • Introduction - Moderator, Rita Rodin, Member, ICANN Board of Directors


  • Preliminary WHOIS Task Force Report Overview - Jordyn Buchanan, Chair, WHOIS Task Force
  • Operational Point of Control" (OPoC) Summary - Ross Rader, Registrars Constituency Member, and David Maher, Registry Constituency Member, WHOIS Task Force
  • Special Circumstances Proposal Summary - Steve Metalitz, Intellectual Property Constituency Member, WHOIS Task Force
    • Audience questions on presentation
  • Data Protection Considerations and WHOIS National Laws Implementation Overview - Kurt Pritz, Vice President, Business Operations
    • Audience comments, questions, discussion

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