[NCUC Public Comment] Thick and Thin Whois Preliminary issues report -- draft comment

Wendy Seltzer wendy at SELTZER.COM
Tue Dec 27 17:24:57 CET 2011

On 12/27/2011 09:56 AM, William Drake wrote:
> Hi
> Good statement, thanks for taking the time Wendy.  Fourth para needs a concluding sentence.
Oops, fixed, and added Avri's suggestion.


>> On 26 Dec 2011, at 02:51, Wendy Seltzer wrote:
>>> I know the timing is tight, but here are some draft comments on the
>>> Preliminary Issue Report on 'Thick' Whois
>>> <http://www.icann.org/en/announcements/announcement-2-21nov11-en.htm>
>>> (comment period closes Dec. 30)
>>> That preliminary report recommends that we start a PDP to make "thick"
>>> WHOIS a consensus policy binding on incumbent registries (Verisign,
>>> which has a thin WHOIS, with distributed registrar records, for .com and
>>> .net). I think that's a bad idea.
>>> ----draft comment----
>>> [] offers this comment on the Preliminary Issue Report on 'Thick' Whois.
>>> As an initial matter, we question the impetus for this policy-making.
>>> It is not clear that changing the thickness of WHOIS responds to the
>>> IRTP working groups' concerns about secure data exchange in a transfer,
>>> as neither the security properties nor alternatives are described in any
>>> detail.
>>> The items in the Applicant Guidebook, in particular the requirement that
>>> all new gTLD applicants provide thick WHOIS, do not reflect a GNSO or
>>> community consensus.  It would therefore reverse the policy-making
>>> process to assert consistency with new gTLDs as a rationale for creating
>>> a policy that required existing registries to change their WHOIS model.
>>> The issue report correctly notes that no policy currently exists as to
>>> WHOIS model. We do not believe this PDP is the time or way to make such
>>> policy.
>>> Further we question the timing and sequence of this proposed PDP.  A
>>> drafting team is currently developing a survey of WHOIS technical
>>> requirements, to gauge community needs from the WHOIS system.  Policy
>>> requiring thick WHOIS appears to offer a solution without before the
>>> problem is defined -- and so risks "solving" the wrong problem, while in
>>> the process reducing flexibility to solve actual problems that the
>>> community identifies.  We also have ongoing WHOIS studies. As the GNSO
>>> Council frequently hears about the overload on staff resources, and
>>> community members themselves face numerous competing demands on their
>>> time, we believe these resources could be better optimized by rejecting
>>> this PDP or postponing it until the prior WHOIS work gave definite
>>> objectives that required changes to the WHOIS model such as a thick WHOIS.

If there is any consideration of a PDP on Thick Whois, it should include
the issue of the legitimacy of the current Applicant Guidebook
requirement on new gTLD applicants to use the Thick Whois model.   It is
quite clear that this subject is within the scope of the GNSO, a scope
that should not have been preempted by the New gTLD application process.
The Issues report should cover this topic before any discussion on the
appropriateness of extending the model to the incumbent registries.
>>> Within the report itself, we would like to see more consideration of
>>> alternative models, such as standards that could streamline the
>>> distributed database of thin WHOIS, or a centralized database.  Many of
>>> the format and accessibility concerns, for example, would appear to be
>>> better served by agreement on a standardized format for WHOIS data
>>> responses than by requirements on where the data must be kept. A new
>>> policy meant to address these concerns should look at their root causes,
and explore the range of available options, not simply pick thick WHOIS
because it's common.

>>> As this preliminary issue report was completed before the adoption of
>>> the new PDP process, it does not contain the impact analysis recommended
>>> there. NCSG has particular interest in the impact on privacy rights.
>>> Moving all data to the registry could facilitate invasion of privacy and
>>> decrease the jurisdictional control registrants have through their
>>> choice of registrar.

For these reasons, NCSG opposes commencement of a PDP and recommends
constriction, not expansion of the thick WHOIS mandate.

>>> ----end draft comment----
>>> Thanks to Avri for helpful suggestions starting the thread.  I propose
>>> this as an NCSG or NCUC comment, depending on response.
>>> Thanks,
>>> --Wendy

Wendy Seltzer -- wendy at seltzer.org +1 914-374-0613
Fellow, Yale Law School Information Society Project
Fellow, Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University

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