14 November, 2010

ICANN Staff tries to kill off the "Searchable WHOIS"

We saw in the Trondheim Board Briefing Materials a slide that stated:

Should new gTLD registry agreements be modified as requested by existing and prospective registries:
– less-rigid price increase notice requirement
– less-limited cap on damages and indemnity
– removal of requirement to pay variable transaction fee if registrars don't
– removal of "searchable Whois" requirement

The following slide then indicated:

• Wishes to remain firm on:
– Notice on price increases
– Limitations on liability and indemnity
– Pass-through of registrar fees

At that point we knew that ICANN Staff didn't favor continuing with a "searchable WHOIS" (yes, they always cave in to whatever the registries strongly demand).  

That has now been confirmed with the release of the new guidebook that states:

[Drafting note to community on change from v4 to v5: The ICANN board of directors has referred the potential requirement to provide searchable Whois (Section 1.8 of Specification 4 in the previous version of the draft Registry Agreement) to its working group on data/consumer protection, which has not completed its review. For the purposes of this draft Specification 4, the requirement has been removed but it may be modified and reintroduced upon direction from the working group, and the ICANN board of directors.]

While one would expect such a policy decision to be placed in the hands of a transparent policy-making body (like the GNSO), instead the decision on this topic will be made in top-down fashion by a board committee that cares so little about consensus-based decision-making that it has agreed to work with no archived mailing list discussions available for community review.

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