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ICANN Resolutions » Request to Defer Compliance Enforcement of Thick WHOIS Consensus Policy for 180 Days

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Request to Defer Compliance Enforcement of Thick WHOIS Consensus Policy for 180 Days


Resolution of the ICANN Board
Meeting Date: 
Fri, 27 Oct 2017
Resolution Number: 
2017.10.29.04
Resolution Text: 

Whereas, the Thick Whois Consensus Policy requires that all new domain name registrations must be submitted to the registry as "thick" starting on 1 May 2018 at the latest, and all relevant registration data for existing domain names must be migrated from "thin" to "thick" by 1 February 2019.

Whereas, the migration from thin to thick registry model will require Registrars to modify the systems through which they submit registration data to registrars.

Whereas, the Registrar Stakeholder Group expressed concerns about undertaking such modifications pending resolution of issues relating to the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which may require further system modifications.

Whereas, in preparation to complete the deployment to accept thick Whois data, Verisign, Inc. 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.

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 need additional time to reach agreement on the proposed amendments to the applicable registry-registrar agreements to implement the Thick Whois Consensus Policy.

Whereas, additional time is required to resolve questions regarding application of the GDPR to Whois data.

Resolved (2017.10.29.04), the President and CEO, or his designee(s), is authorized to defer compliance enforcement of the Thick Whois Consensus Policy for 180 days to allow additional time for the registrars and Verisign to reach agreement on amendments needed to applicable registry-registrar agreements to implement the Policy and for Registrars to undertake system modifications required to enable the thin to thick migration and additional modifications, if any, required for GDPR compliance.

Rationale for Resolution: 

The Thick Whois Consensus Policy requires registrars to submit thick registration data to the .COM, .NET, and .JOBS registries for all new domain name registrations starting on 1 May 2018 at the latest. The Policy also requires migration of all existing domain registration data from thin to thick by 1 February 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.

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 ICANN organization to consult with the registry operator and the Registrar Stakeholder Group to resolve these concerns.

Over the past several months, 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, ICANN organization is investigating whether there are potential compliance issues under its agreements with registries and registrars because of the General Data Protection Regulation. 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 understand 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 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 180 days. This deferred enforcement period will also allow the ICANN organization to continue to engage with the European community (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 organization's work, policies and contracts with registries and registrars, including the Thick Whois 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 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. The optional milestone date for registrars to begin voluntarily submitting thick data to the registry will be 28 May 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 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:

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 (https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/correspondence/kane-to-atallah-20j... [PDF, 3.7 MB])
Letter from Akram Atallah to Patrick Kane re: Thick Whois for .COM and .NET –29 June 2017 (https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/correspondence/atallah-to-kane-29j... [PDF, 4.04 MB])
Letter from Graeme Bunton to Akram Atallah re: Extension Request for Thick WHOIS Migration – 17 August 2017 (https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/correspondence/bunton-to-atallah-1... [PDF, 43 KB])
This action is in the public interest as it helps to ensure consistent and coordinated implementation of policies in gTLDs, and it is within ICANN's Mission to coordinate the development and implementation of policies.

The Board's action is not anticipated to have a fiscal impact on ICANN that is not already anticipated in the current budget, and will not negatively impact the security, stability and resiliency of the domain name system.

This is an Organizational Administrative Function for which no public comment is required.