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ICANN Resolutions » Deferral of transition to Thick WHOIS Policy Implementation

Important note: The Board Resolutions are as reported in the Board Meeting Transcripts, Minutes & Resolutions portion of ICANN's website. Only the words contained in the Resolutions themselves represent the official acts of the Board. The explanatory text provided through this database (including the summary, implementation actions, identification of related resolutions, and additional information) is an interpretation or an explanation that has no official authority and does not represent the purpose behind the Board actions, nor does any explanations or interpretations modify or override the Resolutions themselves. Resolutions can only be modified through further act of the ICANN Board.

Deferral of transition to Thick WHOIS Policy Implementation


Resolution of the ICANN Board
Meeting Date: 
Sun, 13 May 2018
Resolution Number: 
2018.05.13.06
Resolution Text: 

Whereas, the Thick WHOIS Consensus Policy requires that Verisign is to begin accepting "Thick" registration data from registrars starting 28 May 2018, all new domain name registrations must be submitted to the registry as "Thick" starting on 28 October 2018 at the latest, and all relevant registration data for existing domain names must be migrated from "Thin" to "Thick" by 31 July 2019.

Whereas, in preparation to complete the deployment to accept Thick WHOIS data, Verisign proposed amendments to the registry-registrar agreements for .COM and .NET.

Whereas, the Registrar Stakeholder Group and Verisign expressed concerns about agreeing to Verisign's proposed amendments based on issues relating to the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation.

Whereas, ICANN organization has been facilitating 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 Consensus 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 Consensus Policy.

Whereas, the deferred enforcement period will allow the ICANN organization to continue to engage with the relevant European authorities including the European Union Article 29 Working Party, data protection agencies, contracted parties, and other pertinent stakeholders to gain a better understanding of the relevant aspects of GDPR and how it relates to ICANN's work and the organization's policies and contracts with registries and registrars, including the Thick WHOIS Consensus Policy.

Resolved (2018.05.13.06), the President and CEO, or his designee(s), is authorized to defer compliance enforcement of the Thick WHOIS Consensus Policy for six months to 30 November 2018, 30 April 2019 and 31 January 2020, respectively, to allow additional time for the registrars and Verisign to reach agreement on amendments needed to applicable registry-registrar agreements to implement the Policy.

Rationale for Resolution: 

The Thick WHOIS Consensus Policy requires Verisign to begin accepting "Thick" registration data from registrars starting 28 May 2018, registrars to submit Thick registration data to the .COM, .NET, and .JOBS registries for all new domain name registrations starting on 28 October 2018, and the migration of all existing domain registration data from Thin to Thick by 31 July 2019. In preparation to complete the deployment to accept Thick WHOIS data, Verisign, the registry operator for .COM and .NET and the back-end registry services provider for .JOBS, proposed amendments to the registry-registrar agreements for .COM and .NET in order to have the legal framework necessary for Verisign to begin accepting registrar transmission of Thick data to the registry. While the Thick WHOIS Consensus Policy also applies to the .JOBS TLD, the registry operator for .JOBS, Employ Media, did not require changes to the Registry-Registrar Agreement to begin accepting Thick registration data and registrars have already started submitting Thick registration data as per the Policy to Employ Media.

The ICANN organization followed its published Registry-Registrar Agreement amendment procedure and forwarded the proposed amendments to the Registrar Stakeholder Group for review. The Registrar Stakeholder Group expressed concerns about agreeing to the proposed amendments based on issues relating to the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which takes effect on 25 May 2018. As such, the next step outlined in the procedure is for the ICANN organization to consult with the registry operator and the Registrar Stakeholder Group to resolve these concerns.

ICANN organization has been facilitating discussions between Verisign and the Registrar Stakeholder Group to reach agreement on the proposed amendments to the registry-registrar agreements, but the parties have not yet reached agreement. Additionally, the ICANN organization is investigating whether there are potential compliance issues under its agreements with registries and registrars because of the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation ("GDPR"). The ICANN organization is working with registries, registrars and various stakeholders to understand these potential compliance issues. Based on initial reviews and communications, including with some data protection agencies, ICANN organization understands that compliance with GDPR will have an impact on the WHOIS system.

On 29 June 2017, ICANN organization approved Verisign's request for an extension to an optional milestone date in the Policy for registrars to begin voluntarily submitting Thick data to the registry. This extension was granted to provide Verisign, ICANN, and the Registrar Stakeholder Group with more time to continue discussions in hopes of achieving a resolution, while still taking reasonable steps to comply with the Policy. This optional 1 August 2017 milestone date was later extended to 29 November 2017.

To allow additional time for the registrars and Verisign to reach agreement on amendments needed to the registry-registrar agreements to implement the Policy, the Board is taking action at this time to authorize the ICANN President and CEO to defer compliance enforcement of the Thick WHOIS Policy for six months. This deferred enforcement period will also allow the ICANN organization to continue to engage with the relevant European authorities including the European Union Article 29 Working Party, data protection agencies, contracted parties, and other pertinent stakeholders to gain a better understanding of the relevant aspects of GDPR and how it relates to ICANN's work and the organization's policies and contracts with registries and registrars, including the Thick WHOIS Consensus Policy.

As a result of the Board's action, ICANN organization will begin compliance enforcement of the Policy requirement for registrars to submit all new domain name registrations to the registry as Thick starting on 30 April 2019, and all relevant registration data for existing domain names must be migrated from Thin to Thick by 31 January 2020. The optional milestone date for registrars to begin voluntarily submitting Thick data to the registry will be 30 November 2018.

During this period of deferred compliance enforcement, ICANN organization will continue to work with Verisign and the Registrar Stakeholder Group to facilitate discussions on the proposed amendments. ICANN organization will also provide updates to the community on the progress to come into compliance with the Thick WHOIS Consensus Policy. During this extension period, the Registrar Stakeholder Group has indicated [PDF, 43 KB] that it will "continue to engage with ICANN and Verisign regarding the RRA changes, ICANN's role under the GDPR, and steps needed to implement the Thick WHOIS transition."

The Board's deliberation on this matter included, but is not limited to, the following significant materials:

Board Resolution to Defer Compliance Enforcement of Thick WHOIS Consensus Policy for 180 Days
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 [PDF, 1.23 MB]
Thick WHOIS Implementation
IRT letter to GNSO regarding implications GDPR to implement Thick WHOIS [PDF, 351 KB]
Public Comment period on Consistent Labeling and Display implementation proposal
Public Comment period on Transition from Thin to Thick for .COM, .NET and .JOBS
Letter from Patrick Kane to Akram Atallah re: Thick WHOIS for .COM and .NET – 20 June 2017 [PDF, 3.7 MB]
Letter from Akram Atallah to Patrick Kane re: Thick WHOIS for .COM and .NET – 29 June 2017 [PDF, 4.04 MB]
Letter from Graeme Bunton to Akram Atallah re: Extension Request for Thick WHOIS Migration – 17 August 2017 [PDF, 43 KB]
The Board's action is not anticipated to have a fiscal impact on ICANN beyond what is already anticipated in the current budget. This resolution is an organizational administrative function for which no public comment is required. This action is in the public interest as it helps to ensure a consistent and coordinated implementation of policies in gTLDs, which is also aligned with ICANN's mission.