Whois Taskforce: New Rules for Maintaining Whois Data

The “Whois Taskforce” delivered its final recommendations to ICANN.

The “Whois Taskforce” delivered its final recommendations to ICANN for changing whois going forward. The taskforce did not receive a supermajority vote on any of its proposals, but did receive simple majority votes. Whois is the database of contact information and data for registered domain names.

One of the recommendations deals with correcting inaccurate whois data. Whois accuracy is hot topic after GoDaddy recently revoked the registration to FamilyAlbum.com and registered it to another customer. GoDaddy is one of a few registrars that actively work to maintain accurate whois information.

Currently, registrars are required to verify information in whois when they receive a complaint of inaccurate data. Although the registrar may delete a domain registration for inaccurate data, it is not required to do so. It is also unclear what steps the registrar should take to verify the data beyond merely sending an e-mail to the e-mail address listed in Whois.

The taskforce’s recommendation on correcting inaccurate data is summarized below:

1. The Registrar must notify the Operational Point of Contact (new contact type proposed by Taskforce) or the Registered Name Holder in a timely manner.

2. The oPOC or the Registered Name Holder must correct the alleged inaccuracy or defend the accuracy of the data, also in a timely manner.

3. If the oPOC or the Registered Name Holder does not update the contact record with corrected information within this time period, the Registrar must either place the domain name on “hold” or revoke the registration.

4. Before accepting the new information, the Registrar must verify that the oPOC or the Registered Name Holder is contactable using the new email address provided.

5. If the basis for the original complaint of inaccurate data included data elements other than the e-mail address, the Registrar must take reasonable steps to validate corrections to these other data elements before accepting them. (This may include making a phone call or sending a letter, but this is ambiguous.)

6. A standardized mechanism should be used to convey notices of alleged inaccuracy from the internet community and distribute them to the relevant registrar.

Among the companies providing feedback to the taskforce regarding Whois were:

The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS)
Electronic Arts (NASDAQ: ERTS)
March of Dimes
American Heart Association
Motion Picture Association

You can review the final report here.

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