Whois privacy problems not solved by ICANN

By EDRi · November 7, 2007

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

ICANN meeting that took place last week (29 October – 2 November 2007) in
Los Angeles was expected to decide on the WHOIS database privacy problems.
But unfortunately the decision taken was just to make further studies on the
matter, despite the already seven years of discussions on this topic.

The need for WHOIS reform has been a hot topic for some years in the civil
society and some ICANN structures. An EPIC & NGO Letter to ICANN Board on
Need for Whois Reform sent on 30 October 2007 asks “for changes to WHOIS
services that would protect the privacy of individuals, specifically the
removal of registrants’ contact information from the publicly accessible
WHOIS database.”

The letter explains that the “current ICANN WHOIS policy conflicts with
national privacy laws, including the EU Data Protection Directive, which
requires the establishment of a legal framework to ensure that when personal
information is collected, it is used only for its intended purpose. As
personal information in the directory is used for other purposes and ICANN’s
policy keeps the information public and anonymously accessible, the database
could be found illegal according to many national privacy and data
protection laws including the European Data Protection Directive, European
data protection laws and legislation in Canada and Australia.” Moreover, it
points to the Article 29 Working Party’s opinion that underlines that “in
its current form the WHOIS database does not take account of the data
protection and privacy rights”.

The NGOs supported Final Outcomes Report recently published by the WHOIS
Working Group that “accepted the Operational Point of Contact (OPoC)
proposal as a starting point, and the best option to date. The OPoC proposal
would replace publicly available registrant contact information with an
intermediate contact responsible for relaying messages to the registrant.”

The public letter accepted the fact that the WHOIS Working Group proposal
was a workable framework and not a perfect one, recommending “a distinction
between commercial and non-commercial domains.”

But the proposal was rejected by the ICANN, as well as another proposal that
would have allowed domain name registration companies to stop making the
data available through WHOIS. Instead, the ICANN decided to ask for further
studies, that will be identified by the The Generic Names Supporting
Organization (GNSO) Council until 15 February 2007.

The move was seen as a new delay after seven years of discussions. Ross
Rader from the GNSO said to AP: “We’ve had seven years of study on this
issue… what has not been answered is what are the specific questions we
want answers to. From my perspective, further, broad, open study is just a
way for (opponents) to say you don’t have enough votes to change the status

The lack of a concrete decision from GNSO meant a renewal of a call for a
procedure to allow exemptions from ICANN standard contractual obligations
for WHOIS. ICANN’s Government Advisory Committee (GAC) said “uniform
process” among governments was not to be expected and the specific cases
should just be referred to national authorities in order to come to a
procedure for the respective registries and registrars.

EPIC & NGO Letter to ICANN Board on Need for Whois Reform (30.10.2007)

EPIC & NGO Letter to ICANN Board on Need for Whois Reform

Whois Studies Approved, Privacy Deferred (31.10.2007)

Faced with clamor for WHOIS reform, ICANN votes to study the issue more

Whois reform: ICANN says let’s run more tests (1.11.2007)

Change Of Leadership At ICANN As Cerf Makes Way For IP Expert (4.11.2007)