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Monthly Archives: August 2013

Thick WHOIS – What’s the issue?

WHOIS is a required  information service where the identifying data of all registrants of domain names (such as yourname.gay) are made publicly available on the Internet.  This information is made public in order to help Law enforcement Agencies (LEA) and others such as content providers and consumers, locate those responsible for Internet/Web content.

There are two types of WHOIS service:

  1. Thin: The registrar, i.e. the group that leases you your domain name, keeps all of the identifying data.  The registry, e.g. dotgay LLC, only keeps a pointer to the registrar where the data is kept.  In Thin WHOIS, to find the party responsible for a web site, one first needs to search with the Registry and then subsequently with the correct Registrar.
  2. Thick: Both the registry and the registrar are responsible for keeping the authoritative identifying information and for making this data public.

All new gTLDs have been required to provide Thick WHOIS service.  Some of the existing gTLDs, such as .com and .net, are currently allowed to maintain a Thin WHOIS.

There is currently a Policy Development Process on Thick WHOIS ongoing in ICANN to determine:

  • Should all Registries, including the incumbents, be required to support Thick WHOIS?
  • Are there any special concerns, including privacy concerns, about moving from a Thin WHOIS to a Thick WHOIS issue. that need to be considered?

One of the critical issues that came up in the discussions was whether an Applicant’s Personal Data, might be entitled to greater privacy protections in some countries than in others.  If so and in the event that the Registrar and Registry are in different countries, with different privacy rules, is moving the data from a safe haven in the registrar’s country an infringement of a registrant’s privacy rights.

The Working Group filed its initial report in June 2013.  It is currently working on its final report and is in the process of determining  the degree of consensus on the various recommendations.  Generally, there is a consensus, that while the privacy concern is real, there are no special circumstances in the move from Thin to Thick WHOIS that differ from the general case.  The recommendation is that the issue of privacy, in the light of differing levels of Human Rights protection, is an important issue for further policy development, but not in scope for this development process.

Another issue that is being reviewed under the Thick WHOIS privacy issue is the use of Privacy and Proxy Services that allow registrants to protect their privacy for a fee.  These services are currently unlicensed and unregulated.  There is an interest on the part of some stakeholders to build rules for proxy services.   These privacy and proxy service would be subject to the same cross-border privacy issues.

As .gay will be available for registration in many countries where the gay population is under threat and where privacy may be a matter of life and death, these issue are among the critical ICANN domain name discussions that dotgay LLC is following and contributing to.

Movement towards the Community Priority Evaluation

One of the most important tests yet remaining for dotgay LLC efforts to gain the gTLD .gay for the gay community, is the Community Priority Evaluation.   The GNSO recommendation for new gTLDs gave priority to community applications over standard applications.  Since dotgay LLC’s community applications for .gay has 3 Standard application competitors, dotgay LLC will need to do the CPE in order to establish its community status within the application procedures.

The various community applicants for community TLDs have created an interest group, CTAG,  within the ICANN structures, to represent the interests of community applicants and of their communities.    The CTAG sent a letter to ICANN discussing some of the open issues with the CPE.  the primary issue from which most of the specifics stemmed, was the treatment communities have gotten from ICANN.  Instead of being trusted, though required to verify their bona fides vis a vis the community, ICANN has chosen a path of suspicion regarding communities and has treated them as suspect.  dotgay LCC is a co-signer to the letter of concern sent by the CTAG.  And despite the strong community support already shown by the international gay community, dotgay LLC, continues to recruit for further endorsement – to make sure there is no confusion during the CPE about the support for dotgay LLC in the gay community.  While dotgay LLC and many of the other applicants are confident that they have community support for their applications and will pass the CPE test, since the CPE is a test that has never been given before, there is a lot of concern that this be a fair test.

ICANN will not be making the evaluation on its own, but following its normal procedures has arranged for an outside evaluator.  In this case ICANN has appointed the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) as the sole new gTLD Community Priority Evaluation (CPE) panel firm and that the firm has developed a set of guidelines for CPE, which is open for stakeholder feedback from 16 August – 9 September 2013.

Dotgay LLC and the CTAG are currently studying the guidelines put out by the EIU and may submit a comment.  The At-Large Advisory group (ALAC) is also drafting a statement in response to these guidelines.

Enhanced Cooperation and Internet Governance

Hiding under the title of Enhanced Cooperation is one of the thorniest topics in Internet governance.  Who control the Internet: one government – the United States, an Inter Governmental Organization (IGO), or the current multiplicity of multistakeholder organizations currently managing the actual Internet.

This issue has been discussed for over a decade now.  The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) came out with a set of proposals called the Tunis Agenda for the Information Society that have shaped much of the discussion in Internet Governance for years.  One of the things that the Tunis Agenda called for was greater cooperation on the governance of the Internet.  This discussion was split between those who thought that the Internet should be governed by sovereign States based on their authority for Public Policy and those who felt that all Internet stakeholders should cooperate in equivalent roles based on their capacities and needs.  Among those who think enhanced cooperation is about Governments, the drive is to create a Inter Governmental Organization, perhaps as part of the United Nations, to oversee policy for the Internet’s operations.  Among those who think that a multistakeholder model is required, there are calls for strengthening the Internet Governance Forum’s (IGF) role in making recommendations to the various organizations responsible for the operational management of the Internet.

UN CSTD Working Group on enhance Cooperation has been formed to study the issue and make recommendation to the United Nations General Assembly.  dotgay LLC ‘s VP of Policy and Internet Governance is a participant of the WGEC.

A questionnaire asking specific questions is available.  Everyone is invited to submit answers to the questions.   While the original deadline for the questionnaire was 15 august, 2013, the extension of the deadline for submitting the responses to the WGEC questionnaire has been extend until 31 August 2013.

Internet Governance Forum Draft Schedule

After a month of suspense and a bit of controversy over whether this year’s IGF meeting would be held in Bali Indonesia on 22-25 October, the draft schedule for the meeting has been made available.

The theme of this year’s meeting is: “Building Bridges”- Enhancing Multistakeholder Cooperation for Growth and Sustainable Development“.  Sessions at the IGF are divided over 4 days, with main sessions as well as a number of workshops and fora.   Some of the topics to be included in this year’s IGF include:

  • Internet Fundamentals: how the Internet really works?
  • Big Brother became reality – what is the right balance between security and freedom in the digital world?
  • Social Media for Social Movement: How Civil Society Can Optimize The Internet to Conduct Online Public Advocacy of Human Rights
  • Focus Session (Security): Legal and other Frameworks: Spam, Hacking and Cyber-crime
  • Focus Session (Openess) Human Rights, freedom of expression, free flow of information on the Internet
  • Making Multistakeholderism More Equitable & Transparent
  • Civil Society in ICANN’s Multistakeholderism: The GNSO case
  • Protecting journalists, bloggers and media actors in digital age
  • Gender and Internet Governance: Integrating women’s rights at the IGF space

The IGF produces a programme paper that evolves as the preparation for the meeting progress.


WHOIS is a online information service that requires the publication of the name, address and telephone number of all registrants of second level domain names. The WHOIS issue is one that ICANN has been struggling on for a very long time.  It is the tussle between the requirements of Privacy and the requirements of Law Enforcement Agencies and others, including consumers, to know who is responsible for the of web content that is shown under a domain name such as yourname.gay. The GNSO currently has 3 Working Groups and ICANN has one Expert Working Group (EWG) engaged on this topic, and all of them are close to making recommendations that will affect the registrants of all new domain names, including those in .gay.

The topics under discussion in the WHOIS working groups includes topic such as  under what jurisdiction is a person’s private information governed and the methods of recording international information in languages other than English.  the EWG is concerend with the larger issues of data collection by authorities and privacy.  this group is working on a recommendation that all data on all registrants, including the registrant for yourdomain.gay, be kept in one globally available database.