[Comments-epdp-recs-04mar19] Comments of the Internet Governance Project

Mueller, Milton L milton at gatech.edu
Fri Mar 29 13:54:11 UTC 2019

Comments of the Internet Governance Project on the Temporary Specification for gTLD Registration Data Policy Recommendations

The Internet Governance Project (IGP) is a group of professors, postdoctoral researchers and students hosted at the School of Public Policy at the Georgia Institute of Technology, one of the world's leading engineering universities. IGP members have 21 years of experience working within ICANN and have deep experience with the Whois-privacy issue.

In our opinion the Final Report proposes reforms in Whois policy that are, for the most part, important steps forward for individual rights and cybersecurity. Indiscriminate global access to the personally identifiable information of domain name registrants, particularly their names, addresses and email addresses, clearly violates basic data protection norms and is now illegal in most world jurisdictions. Open publication of this data is also known to facilitate spam and other forms of cybercrime. By clearly defining the limited purposes of Whois, minimizing the data collected to that needed to fulfill those purposes, and redacting from publication those data elements that are most sensitive to abuse, the recommendations in the final report culminate a long-overdue reform process that brings Whois into compliance with privacy rights.

Many of the recommendations in the report achieved full consensus; those that did not achieve full consensus nevertheless enjoyed "consensus support" as defined by the PDP procedures. Consensus was further ratified by the GNSO Council's adoption of the report on March 4. Needing to meet a "supermajority" voting threshold, the GNSO approved the report with unanimous support from 3 of the 4 Stakeholder Groups (Registries, Registrars, Noncommercial Users), 1/3 support of the 4th Stakeholder Group (Commercial Users) and the support of all Nominating Committee-appointed Council members. By any measure, this report has the broad community support needed to move forward to implementation.

IGP does not wholeheartedly support everything in the report, but at this stage of the game it is pointless to make comments that oppose or call for further exploration of particular recommendations or issues in the final report. Exploring the issues and legalities, and reaching the compromises needed to maximize support for specific reforms, was the task of the EPDP itself. The process of replacing the Temporary Specification is completed; no one is in a position to second-guess these difficult choices and hard-won compromises at this juncture. We are quite certain that any change to the proposed policies, in any direction, would result in less support than it has now.

We understand that there are still a few stakeholders who pine for the old Whois, but the idea that we can go back to those days is a form of denial that can no longer be indulged. Those days are over. The Board must resist any efforts to bypass or distort the legitimate process.

Further, the rapid development of reform policies by an Expedited Policy Development Process (EPDP) with balanced representation of the relevant stakeholder groups demonstrates the effectiveness of ICANN's governance model. Ignoring or manipulating the EPDP outcome would risk delegitimizing the multistakeholder governance model, open up the organization to legal challenges and undermine privacy, security and the rule of law.

We therefore expect rapid and unqualified approval of the report and its policy recommendations by the ICANN board.

Dr. Milton Mueller
Professor, School of Public Policy
Georgia Institute of Technology

[IGP_logo_gold block_email sig]<http://www.internetgovernance.org/>

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