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ICANN enters talks to kill off Whois for good

Kevin Murphy, October 23, 2019, 16:10:57 (UTC), Domain Tech

Whois’ days are numbered.

ICANN is to soon enter talks with accredited registrars and contracted gTLD registries with the aim of naming a date to finally “sunset” the aging protocol.

It wants to negotiate amendments to the Registrar Accreditation Agreement and Registry Agreement with a view to replacing obligations to publish Whois with obligations to publish Registration Data Access Protocol data.

In letters to the chairs of its registrar and registry constituencies this week, ICANN CEO Göran Marby wrote:

The primary focus of the amendment is to incorporate contractual requirements for the Registration Data Access Protocol (RDAP) into the Registration Data Directory Services. This should include definition of the plan and provisions to sunset the obligations related to the WHOIS protocol as we transition Registration Data Services to RDAP.

For avoidance of doubt, people will still be able to look up the contact information for domain name owners after the change, but the data they see (very likely redacted for privacy reasons nowadays) will be delivered over a different protocol.

The contract amendment processes involve both registry and registrar constituencies to nominate a few people to engage in talks with ICANN negotiators, which is expected to conclude within 90 days.

When they come up with mutually acceptable language, the amendments will be open for both public comment and a vote of registries and registrars, before going to the ICANN board of directors for final approval.

The voting process is complex, designed to avoid capture by the largest registrars, and based on a balance of the number of voting registrars and the number of domains they collectively manage.

The contractual changes will come as no surprise to contracted parties, which have been on-notice for years that Whois is on its way out in favor of RDAP.

Most registrars already operate an RDAP server in parallel to their old Whois service, following an ICANN deadline in August.

We could be looking at the death of Whois within a year.

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Comments (5)

  1. Acro says:

    “open for both public comment and a vote of registries and registrars”

    Just skip this part, and go directly to final approval by the ICANN directors.

    The .ORG/PIR contract vote travesty clearly shows that bureaucrats could care less about the importance of the public’s feedback and votes.

  2. Mark Thorpe says:

    ICANN is the one that needs to see the “sunset”.

  3. Richard Funden says:

    Nail, meet coffin! Been nice knowing you, WHOIS, don’t let the door hit you on the way out…

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