ICANN Resolutions » Deferral of Compliance Enforcement of Thick WHOIS Consensus Policy

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Deferral of Compliance Enforcement of Thick WHOIS Consensus Policy


Resolution of the ICANN Board
Meeting Date: 
Thu, 7 Nov 2019
Resolution Number: 
2019.11.07.13
Resolution Text: 

Whereas, the ICANN Board of Directors adopted consensus policy recommendations of the GNSO Thick WHOIS Working Group regarding the use of Thick WHOIS by all gTLD registries on 7 February 2014, after the recommendations were approved by the GNSO Council. Recommendation #1 states that "The provision of Thick WHOIS services, with a consistent labeling and display as per the model outlined in specification 3 of the 2013 [Registrar Accreditation Agreement], should become a requirement for all gTLD registries, both existing and future."

Whereas, the Thick WHOIS Transition Policy requires the respective registry operators for .com and .net (Verisign), and .jobs (Employ Media), to begin accepting "Thick" registration data from registrars for .com, .net, and .jobs names starting 30 November 2019; that all new domain name registrations be submitted to the registry as "Thick" by 31 May 2020; and all relevant registration data for existing domain names must be migrated from "Thin" to "Thick" by 30 November 2020.

Whereas, in preparation to complete the deployment to accept "Thick" registration data, Verisign proposed amendments to the Registry-Registrar Agreements for .com and .net.

Whereas, the Registrar Stakeholder Group expressed concerns about Verisign's proposed Registry-Registrar Agreement amendments based on issues relating to the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation, the processing of data, and new requirements and obligations imposed on the registrars.

Whereas, ICANN org has facilitated discussions between Verisign and the Registrar Stakeholder Group to reach agreement on the proposed amendments to the Registry-Registrar Agreements to implement the Thick WHOIS Transition Policy.

Whereas, Verisign and the Registrar Stakeholder Group are at an impasse and need additional time to reach agreement on the proposed amendments to the applicable Registry-Registrar Agreements to implement the Thick WHOIS Transition Policy.

Whereas, on 29 July 2019 Verisign requested that ICANN org extend all compliance enforcement dates in the implementation plan for the Thick WHOIS Transition Policy by one year to coincide with the timeframe for the community to finalize a consensus policy to replace the Temporary Specification for gTLD Registration Data and for any corresponding implementation review and contractual modifications resulting from that Consensus Policy to be completed.

Whereas, on 27 August 2019, the ICANN Board sent a letter to the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) Council requesting the GNSO Council provide its views on whether the ICANN Board should grant an additional deferral of compliance enforcement for the Thick WHOIS Transition Policy in consideration of the ongoing work by the Expedited Policy Development Process Team, the GNSO, and the gTLD Registration Data Policy Implementation Review Team.

Whereas, on 20 September 2019, the GNSO Council replied to the ICANN Board acknowledging the Council is still in the process of developing a work plan to address the impacted policies and procedures and it is clear that the work by the gTLD Registration Data Policy Implementation Review Team and the Council will extend beyond the current transition milestones for the Thick WHOIS Transition Policy.

Whereas, the deferred enforcement period will allow ICANN org and the community time to complete the gTLD Registration Data Policy, based on the Expedited Policy Development Process (EPDP) Team's recommendations adopted by the ICANN Board on 15 May 2019 and to consider its potential impact on other, relevant ICANN consensus policies, including the Thick WHOIS Transition Policy.

Whereas, the deferred enforcement period will allow the contracted parties time to implement any changes to the Thick WHOIS Transition Policy to account for the potential impact of the gTLD Registration Data Policy.

Whereas, the deferred enforcement period will allow the contracted parties time to complete the necessary Registry-Registrar Agreements based on the outcomes in the forthcoming gTLD Registration Data Policy and review by the GNSO Council.

Resolved (2019.11.07.13), the President and CEO, or his designee(s), is authorized to defer compliance enforcement of the Thick WHOIS Transition Policy until all of the following have occurred:

the gTLD Registration Data Policy Implementation Review Team (IRT) completes its review and establishes an implementation timeline estimate of the Expedited Policy Development Process (EPDP) Team's recommendations as adopted by the ICANN Board on 15 May 2019;
ICANN org and the IRT provide the GNSO Council with the required information on the impacts of the EPDP Team's recommendations on existing policies and procedures (including the Thick WHOIS Transition policy), and
the GNSO Council makes a determination on whether to take action on updates to relevant policies and procedures (which could include additional policy work, guidance, or other actions to be determined) impacting the Thick WHOIS Transition Policy.

Rationale for Resolution: 

This is the fifth deferral of the compliance enforcement of the Thick WHOIS Transition Policy. In March 2017, as part of its preparations to implement the Thick WHOIS Transition Policy, Verisign submitted its initial proposed Registry-Registrar Agreement (RRA) amendments for .com and .net to ICANN org for approval. Verisign stated that changes to the proposed amendments to the RRAs are required to have the legal framework necessary for acceptance of the registration data from registrars. The Registrar Stakeholder Group (RrSG) expressed concerns about agreeing to Verisign's proposed RRA amendments based on issues relating to the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which was set to take effect on 25 May 2018. ICANN org followed the established RRA amendment procedure and consulted with Verisign and the RrSG to resolve the concerns. Following several discussions with all parties and without finding a resolution to the concerns raised, the RrSG wrote to ICANN org in August 2017 requesting an extension to the Thick WHOIS Transition Policy effective dates. On 27 October 2017, the ICANN Board passed a resolution to defer contractual compliance enforcement of the Thick WHOIS transition for 180 days and to provide Verisign, ICANN org, and the RrSG with more time to continue discussions in hopes of achieving a resolution on the proposed RRA amendments.

On 13 April 2018, Verisign again wrote to ICANN org requesting an additional extension to the Thick WHOIS Transition Policy effective dates, stating that adhering to the implementation deadline for Thick WHOIS would not be "prudent as it would add complexity and risk to the community's work when the uncertainty about the collection, transfer, and data processing of WHOIS data is at its peak." On 13 May 2018, the Board adopted a resolution to defer compliance enforcement of the Thick WHOIS Transition Policy by an additional 180 days to allow ICANN org to continue to work with the relevant European authorities and the ICANN community to develop an interim model to understand and manage the complexity and risk of GDPR while adhering to the Thick WHOIS Transition Policy.

On 17 May 2018, the ICANN Board adopted the proposed Temporary Specification for gTLD Registration Data as an interim measure to bring existing WHOIS obligations in line with requirements of GDPR. This also triggered the GNSO Council to undertake an expedited policy development process. The Expedited Policy Development Process (EPDP) Team was tasked with completing its work within 12 months of the implementation of the Temporary Specification, or May 2019.

On 27 August 2018, Verisign submitted revised proposed amendments to the .com and .net RRAs. Verisign's revised proposed RRA amendments were intended to address the upcoming implementation of the Thick WHOIS Transition Policy and the requirements contained within ICANN's Temporary Specification for gTLD Registration Data. ICANN org again followed the established procedure for considering the proposed amendments, including a review by the RrSG.

Verisign wrote to ICANN org on 21 September 2018 requesting an additional 12-month extension of the compliance enforcement dates for the Thick WHOIS Transition Policy. Verisign based its request on the ongoing work of the EPDP Team to formulate a consensus policy for registration data, adhering to the implementation deadlines for the Thick WHOIS Transition Policy, and migrating massive amounts of registration data associated with .com and .net before a permanent solution is in place would create significant complexity and risk. On 25 October 2018, the Board adopted a resolution to defer the compliance enforcement of the Thick WHOIS Transition Policy by an additional 180 days.

On 22 February 2019, Verisign wrote to ICANN org requesting that ICANN org extend all compliance enforcement dates in the Thick WHOIS Transition Policy implementation plan by one year to coincide with the timeframe for the community to finalize a consensus policy to replace the Temporary Specification for gTLD Registration Data and for any corresponding implementation review and contractual modifications resulting from that consensus policy to be completed. On 4 March 2019, the GNSO Council voted to approve all of the policy recommendations in the EPDP Team's Final Report on the Temporary Specification for gTLD Registration Data. On 14 March 2019, the Board adopted a resolution to defer the compliance enforcement of the Thick WHOIS Transition Policy transition dates by an additional 180 days. On 15 May 2019, the ICANN Board adopted the GNSO Council Policy Recommendations for a new consensus policy on gTLD Registration Data as set forth in section 5 of the EPDP Final Report in accordance with Sections A and B of the report's attached scorecard titled "Scorecard: EPDP Phase 1 Recommendations."

On 29 July 2019, Verisign wrote to ICANN org requesting that ICANN org extend all compliance enforcement dates in the implementation plan for the Thick WHOIS Transition Policy by one year to coincide with the timeframe for the community to finalize a Consensus Policy to replace the Temporary Specification for gTLD Registration Data and for any corresponding implementation review and contractual modifications resulting from that Consensus Policy to be completed.

On 27 August 2019, the ICANN Board wrote to the GNSO Council seeking the Council's views as to whether the ICANN Board should grant an additional deferral of compliance enforcement for the Thick WHOIS Transition Policy in consideration of the ongoing work from the GNSO Council and the Registration Data Policy IRT to review the EPDP Team's recommendations and consider the new policy's potential impact on other, relevant ICANN consensus policies, including the Thick WHOIS Transition Policy. On 20 September 2019, the GNSO Council responded to the ICANN Board indicating the Council's intent to review the existing policies and procedures listed in the EPDP Team's recommendations, specifically Recommendation #27, which includes the Thick WHOIS Transition Policy, to begin the process of updating those policies and procedures to be consistent with the EPDP Team's recommendations. The Council indicated it expected the timeline to review the impacted policies and procedures would extend beyond the current Thick WHOIS Transition Policy milestones and the Council acknowledged the request to extend originated from a contracted party. As such, the Council stated that it is not within its purview to make the determination of whether or not to grant the deferral.

The additional time will allow ICANN org and the community time to complete drafting of the gTLD Registration Data Policy based on the EPDP Team's recommendations as adopted by the ICANN Board on 15 May 2019 and to consider its potential impact on other, relevant ICANN consensus policies, including the Thick WHOIS Transition Policy. Following completion of the GNSO Council taking action on updates to relevant policies and procedures, which may include additional policy work, guidance, or other actions to be determined, inclusive of potential impacts to the Thick WHOIS Transition Policy, the contracted parties will need time to complete the necessary Registry-Registrar Agreements and to implement any changes to account for the potential impact of the gTLD Registration Data Policy on the Thick WHOIS Transition Policy.

The table below details the history of the ICANN Board Resolutions and policy implementation dates.

Implementation Dates per the Thick WHOIS Transition Policy
Milestone Description RO must deploy an EPP and bulk transfer mechanism for registrars to begin migrating registration data All New Registrations must be "Thick Completion of Transition for Existing Registrations
5 Proposed Timeline October 2019 Board Resolution TBD upon completion of Recommendation #27 review and subsequent actions from the review
4 March 2019 Board Resolution 30-Nov-19 31-May-20 30-Nov-20
3 October 2018 Board Resolution 31-May-19 30-Nov-19 31-May-20
2 May 2018 Board Resolution 30-Nov-18 30-Apr-19 31-Jan-20
1 October 2017 Board Resolution 28-May-18 28-Oct-18 31-Jul-19
Original Consensus Policy Dates 1-Aug-17 1-May-18 1-Feb-19
The Board is taking action at this time to authorize the ICANN org President and CEO to defer compliance enforcement of the Thick WHOIS Transition Policy until all of the following have occurred:

the gTLD Registration Data Policy Implementation Review Team (IRT) completes its review and establishes an implementation timeline estimate of the Expedited Policy Development Process (EPDP) Team's recommendations as adopted by the ICANN Board on 15 May 2019;
ICANN org and the IRT provide the GNSO Council with the required information on the impacts of the EPDP Team's recommendations on existing policies and procedures (including the Thick WHOIS Transition policy), and
the GNSO Council takes action on updates to relevant policies and procedures (which could include additional policy work, guidance, or other actions to be determined) impacting the Thick WHOIS Transition Policy.
To the extent it makes sense to do so in light of the GNSO Council's work, the completion of the gTLD Registration Data Policy, ICANN org will continue to work with Verisign and the Registrars Stakeholder Group to facilitate discussions on the proposed RRA amendments.

The Board's deliberations on this matter referenced several significant materials including:

ICANN Board of Directors adopted consensus policy recommendations of the GNSO Thick WHOIS Working Group regarding the use of Thick WHOIS by all gTLD registries on 7 February 2014
Thick WHOIS Transition Policy for .com, .net, and .jobs
Registry Registration Data Directory Services Consistent Labeling and Display Policy
PDP Documentation
PDP WG Final Report
Thick WHOIS Implementation
IRT letter to GNSO regarding implications GDPR to implement Thick WHOIS
Public Comment period on Consistent Labeling and Display implementation proposal
Public Comment period on Transition from Thin too Thick for .com, .net and .jobs
Letter from Patrick Kane to Akram Atallah re: Thick WHOIS for .com and .net – 20 June 2017
Letter from Akram Atallah to Patrick Kane re: Thick WHOIS for .com and .net –29 June 2017
Letter from Graeme Bunton to Akram Atallah re: Extension Request for Thick WHOIS Migration – 17 August 2017
27 October 2017 Board Resolution to Defer Compliance Enforcement of Thick WHOIS Consensus Policy for 180 Days
Letter from Patrick Kane to Akram Atallah requesting an extension of the implementation deadlines under the Thick WHOIS Consensus Policy
13 May 2018 Board Resolution to Defer Compliance Enforcement of Thick WHOIS Consensus Policy for 180 Days
Letter from Patrick Kane to Akram Atallah re: Extension request for Thick WHOIS Migration – 21 September 2018
20 February 2019: Final Report of the Temporary Specification for gTLD Registration Data Expedited Policy Development Process from GNSO
Letter from Patrick Kane to Cyrus Namazi re: Extension request for Thick WHOIS Implementation – 22 February 2019
14 March 2019 Board Resolution to Defer Compliance Enforcement of Thick WHOIS Consensus Policy for 180 Days
Generic Names Supporting Organization Council Adopts EPDP Final Report on the Temporary Specification for gTLD Registration Data
ICANN Board Consideration of GNSO EPDP Recommendations on the Temporary Specification for gTLD Registration Data
Letter from Patrick Kane to Cyrus Namazi re: Extension request for Thick WHOIS Implementation - 29 July 2019.
Letter from the ICANN Board to the GNSO Council - 27 August 2019
Letter from the GNSO Council to the ICANN Board - 20 September 2019
The Board's action is not anticipated to have a fiscal impact on ICANN org that is not already anticipated in the current budget. This resolution is an Organizational Administrative function for which no public comment is required. This action is in line with ICANN's mission and is in the public interest as it helps to ensure a consistent and coordinated implementation of policies in gTLDs.