DNSO General Assembly
Shanghai Meeting, 29 October 2002

WHOIS Task Force Update

Last updated: 2002-10-17

Submit an online comment.

Background: Current Policy

WHOIS access - i.e., public access to domain name holders' identities and addresses - is being provided by both registries and registrars.

For gTLD registrars, the current policy is contained in the Registrar Accreditation Agreement. The current policy's requirements:

  • Query-based access, on the registrar's own cost. This access is available for everyone, and the data obtained may be used for any lawful purpose, with the exceptions of spamming and automated high-volume processes which may affect registrars' and registries' systems.
    Data elements made available include the registrant's name and address, and the contacts' names, addresses, telephone and fax numbers, and e-mail addresses.
  • Bulk access, for an annual fee not to exceed $10,000. This kind of access is available to everyone who is willing to sign a bulk access agreement with the registrar. Once again, data may be used for any lawful purpose, with the exceptions of spamming and automated high-volume processes. Additionally, the registrar may forbid the further sale and distribution of bulk WHOIS data by data recipients.
    Registrars may give individual registrants an opportunity to opt out of marketing use of their data when made available through bulk access.

For gTLD registries, WHOIS policy is contained in a variety of agreements and their appendixes. Generally speaking, the conditions under which data are made available mirror query-based access on the registrar level. Bulk access is only available for the provision of an improved query-based service, and to an ICANN-assigned service provider.

Data elements vary between TLDs: In the so-called "thin registry model" (.com, .net, .org), the registry WHOIS only makes a referral to the registrar of record available. In the so-called "thick registry model" (all new gTLDs), the registry WHOIS itself contains the complete data made available by registrars, plus the registrant's phone and fax numbers and e-mail address.

Some thick registries are planning or have implemented advanced search services.

The Task Force's Work

In summer 2001, the Names Council's WHOIS Task Force has conducted a non-representative survey. The survey's results and some preliminary recommendations have been published at ICANN's Bucharest meetings. The Task Force has solicited public comments on its report. The comments received so far are available from the DNSO's web site.

The Task Force has also had conversations with a number of stakeholders during telephone conferences.

The Task Force has since Bucharest focused its efforts on four areas of concern, which were addressed by sub-groups of the Task Force:

  • Accuracy of WHOIS data: How can current contractual provisions on the accuracy of WHOIS data better be enforced and/or improved?
  • Uniformity of data formats and data elements across TLDs.
  • Extended search services.
  • Bulk access and marketing use.

The results of the Task Force's work on these topics have been published in an interim report for public comment, and will be presented and discussed at the General Assembly meeting in Shanghai.

Submit an online comment.

Contact: Thomas Roessler <roessler@does-not-exist.org>