ICANN Board Approves ‘Thick’ Whois Requirement for .COM and .NET

The ICANN Board has approved the community recommendation that “the provision of Thick Whois services should become a requirement for all gTLD registries, both existing and future.” MarkMonitor has long supported the migration from ‘thin’ to ‘thick’ Whois, which will improve both quality and ease of access to Whois data, thereby further facilitating intellectual property enforcement online.

The ICANN community has debated the merits of migration from ‘thin’ to ‘thick’ Whois for years, as part of the larger Whois Review process. A ‘thick’ Whois, which is currently required of all new gTLDs, and will now be required of all existing gTLDs as well, provides domain name information and registrant information in one place, with the authoritative database for all information stored at the Registry level. By contrast, the few remaining ‘thin’ Whois registry information models (including .COM, where the majority of domain registrations lie, and consequently the most abuse occurs), separate the data by registrar and registry, with the former holding registrant information and the latter holding domain name registration data.

The ICANN Board resolution adopted the recommendations made by the Thick Whois Policy Development Process Working Group in its Initial Report, released in June of last year. The findings, with which MarkMonitor and other leaders in the intellectual property protection community agree, are as follows:

Requiring a Thick Whois would, among other things:

• Improve response consistency
• Improve Whois stability
• Improve access to Whois data
• Provide a more level playing field for competitive purposes; and
• Improve access to escrowed data in the event of failure

For brand owners, the benefits are simple. Easier, quicker access to stable and consistent Whois information means quicker responses to and resolution of disputes involving websites which contain the sale of counterfeit goods and pirated copyrighted materials, the distribution of phishing, malware and destructively operating botnets, and content which infringes on trademarks.

MarkMonitor will continue to participate in and monitor the implementation plan for migration from ‘thin’ to ‘thick’ Whois, which will affect over 120 million domain name registrations. However, we are pleased to note that the Thick Whois Policy Development Process Working Group fully examined the issue, and found no significant possibility of detrimental effects.

If you would like more information about this, or other ICANN policy development issues, please don’t hesitate to contact us at kiran (dot) malancharuvil (at) markmonitor (dot) com.

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Alison Simpson
With more than 13 years’ experience in the domain industry, Alison has managed all aspects of Corporate Domain Managem... More