[council] Whois Study Motion
cgomes at verisign.com
Fri Feb 20 19:48:34 UTC 2009
I am hereby making the following motion for possible consideration at
the Council meeting in Mexico City on Wednesday, 4 March.
GNSO Council motion to pursue cost estimates of selected Whois studies.
In Oct-2007, the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) Council
concluded that a comprehensive, objective and quantifiable understanding
of key factual issues regarding the gTLD Whois system would benefit
future GNSO policy development efforts
Before defining the details of these studies, the Council solicited
suggestions from the community for specific topics of study on WHOIS.
Suggestions were submitted
<http://forum.icann.org/lists/WHOIS-comments-2008/> ) and ICANN staff
prepared a 'Report on Public Suggestions on Further Studies of WHOIS',
On 28-Mar-2008 the GNSO Council resolved to form a WHOIS Study Working
Group to develop a proposed list, if any, of recommended studies for
which ICANN staff will be asked to provide cost estimates to the Council
The WHOIS Study WG did not reach consensus regarding further studies,
and on 25-Jun-2008 the GNSO Council resolved to form another group of
volunteers (WHOIS Hypotheses WG) to review the 'Report on Public
Suggestions on Further Studies of WHOIS' and the GAC letter on WHOIS
This WG was tasked to prepare a list of hypotheses to be tested, and to
deliver a report to the Council. The Whois Hypotheses WG delivered its
report to the Council on 26-Aug-2008.
On 29-Oct-2008 the Registry constituency circulated its recommendations
for consolidating and considering further Whois studies.
On 5 November 2008 the GNSO Council decided to convene a series of
special meetings on Whois studies, and to solicit further constituency
views assessing both the priority level and the feasibility of the
various Whois studies that have been proposed, with the goal of deciding
which studies, if any, should be assessed for cost and feasibility. The
Council would then ask staff to perform that assessment, and, following
that assessment, the Council would decide which studies should be
conducted. Council Chair Avri Doria convened a volunteer group of
Councilors and interested constituency members to draft a resolution
regarding studies, if any, for which cost estimates should be obtained.
This 'Whois Study Drafting Team' is tracked on a wiki page at
The Whois Study Drafting Team further consolidated studies and data
requested by the GAC. For each of the consolidated studies,
constituencies were invited to assign priority rank and assess
feasibility. 5 constituencies provided the requested rankings, while 2
constituencies (NCUC and Registrars) indicated that no further studies
were justified. The GAC was also invited to assign priorities, but no
reply was received as of 22-Jan-2009.
The Drafting Team determined that the six studies with the highest
average priority scores should be the subject of further research to
determine feasibility and obtain cost estimates. The selection of these
initial studies does not foreclose further consideration of the
Council requests Staff to conduct research on feasibility and cost
estimates for the Whois studies listed below, and report its findings to
Council as soon as possible, noting that Staff need not fulfill the full
request at once but may fulfill the requirements in stages.
1) Group A (Studies 1, 14, 21 and GAC data set 2):
Study 1 hypothesis: Public access to WHOIS data is responsible for a
material number of cases of misuse that have caused harm to natural
persons whose registrations do not have a commercial purpose.
Study 14 hypothesis: The Whois database is used only to a minor extent
to generate spam and other such illegal or undesirable activities.
Study 21 and GAC data set 2 hypothesis: There are significant abuses
caused by public display of Whois. Significant abuses would include use
of WHOIS data in spam generation, abuse of personal data, loss of
reputation or identity theft, security costs and loss of data.
2) Study 11.
Study 11 hypothesis: The use of non-ASCII character sets in Whois
records will detract from data accuracy and readability.
3) Group B (Studies 13, 17, GAC 1 & GAC 11)
Study 13 hypotheses: a) The number of proxy registrations is increasing
when compared with the total number of registrations; b) Proxy and
private WHOIS records complicate the investigation and disabling of
phishing sites, sites that host malware, and other sites perpetrating
electronic crime as compared with non-proxy registrations and
non-private registrations; c) Domain names registered using proxy or
privacy services are disproportionately associated with phishing,
malware, and other electronic crime as compared with non-proxy
registrations or non-private registrations.
Study 17 hypothesis: The majority of domain names registered by
proxy/privacy services are used for abusive and/or illegal purposes.
GAC Study 1 hypothesis: The legitimate use of gTLD WHOIS data is
prevented by the use of proxy and privacy registration services.
GAC Study 11 hypothesis: Domain names registered using proxy or privacy
services are disproportionately associated with fraud and other illegal
activities as compared with non-proxy registrations.
4) Group E (Studies 3 & 20)
Study 3 hypothesis: Some proxy and privacy services are not revealing
registrant/licensee data when presented with requests that provide
reasonable evidence of actionable harm, as required to avoid liability
under registration agreement provisions that reflect the requirements of
Study 20 hypothesis: Some proxy and privacy services do not promptly and
reliably relay information requests to and from registrants/licensees.
5) Group C (GAC Studies 5 & 6)
GAC Study 5 hypothesis: A significant percentage of registrants who are
legal entities are providing inaccurate Whois data that implies they are
natural persons. Furthermore the percentage of registrants with such
inaccuracies will vary significantly depending upon the nation or
continent of registration.
GAC Study 6 hypothesis: A significant percentage of registrants who are
operating domains with a commercial purpose are providing inaccurate
Whois data that implies they are acting without commercial purposes.
Furthermore the percentage of registrants with such inaccuracies will
vary significantly depending upon the nation or continent of
6) Group D (Studies 18, 19, GAC 9 & GAC 10)
Study 18 hypothesis: The majority of domain names registered by
proxy/privacy services are used for commercial purposes and not for use
by natural persons.
Study 19 hypothesis: A disproportionate share of requests to reveal the
identity of registrants who use proxy services is directed toward
registrations made by
GAC Study 9 hypothesis: A growing and significant share of proxy/privacy
service users are legal persons.
GAC Study 10 hypothesis: A growing and significant share of domains that
are registered using proxy/privacy services are used for commercial
Council further requests that Staff refer to original study submissions
(posted at http://forum.icann.org/lists/whois-comments-2008/
<http://forum.icann.org/lists/whois-comments-2008/> ), for statements
of how study results could lead to an improvement in Whois policy. Many
submitters also described the type of survey/study needed, including
data elements, data sources, population to be surveyed, and sample size.
Staff is invited to pursue creative ways to develop cost estimates for
these studies, including re-formulations of the suggested hypotheses.
At any time, Staff may come back to Council with questions regarding
Council further requests that Staff communicate the resolution to GAC
representatives once it has been approved.
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