WHOIS services provide public access to data on registered domain names, which currently includes contact information for Registered Name Holders. The extent of registration data collected at the time of registration of a domain name, and the ways such data can be accessed, are specified in agreements established by ICANN for domain names registered in generic top-level domains (gTLDs). For example, ICANN requires accredited registrars to collect and provide free public access to the name of the registered domain name and its nameservers and registrar, the date the domain was created and when its registration expires, and the contact information for the Registered Name Holder, the technical contact, and the administrative contact.

Periodic reviews of policies relating to WHOIS are undertaken through ICANN's bottom-up, consensus-seeking policy development processes (PDP). WHOIS issues are being addressed by the Generic Names Supporting Organisation's (GNSO's) policy development process, which includes numerous opportunities for public review and comment, and results in non-binding recommendations to ICANN's Board. WHOIS issues are at the midpoint of this process, and many steps still remain before recommendations are put forward for the ICANN Board's consideration and decision. The GNSO's PDP involves creating an Issue Report, launching a PDP, notifying the public, forming task forces or other mechanisms to gather information and seek input from all stakeholders, posting reports for public comment, and continuing to seek advice and deliberate in an effort to work towards achieving a consensus policy recommendation that will be considered by ICANN's Board.

Useful Links and Materials

ISPCP position papers on whois and the ISPCP members participating on the whois gNSO activities will be posted shortly.

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