March 6, 2019
Phase 1 of the EPDP on gTLD Registration Data is now complete
On 4 March 2019 the GNSO Council held a special meeting in order to approve the recommendations of Phase 1 of the Expedited Policy Development Process (EPDP) working group, tasked with developing a consensus policy for the treatment of WHOIS data in the light of GDPR. As anticipated, the representatives from the Intellectual Property Constituency (IPC) and Business Constituency (BC) voted against the Final Report, but since all other GNSO Councillors were in favour the Final Report was approved and will now be passed to the ICANN Board for adoption. Following the usual practice, a final 43-day public comment period (closing on 17 April) has now opened for anyone who wishes to provide any further feedback before the Board takes action.
Of course, there is much work still to be done:
Although the Final Report sets out a series of policy recommendations, these still need to be implemented, with much of the detail in the recommendations having been left to this process. The session in Kobe on Wednesday at 10.30 – 12.00 local time is expected to be used to begin the discussion on this implementation work. Key considerations initially will include the timing of the work (the Final Report anticipates completion before March 2020) and the size and composition of any Implementation Review Team.
A number of the thornier issues from Phase 1 were referred for further work in Phase 2. This includes whether the city field should continue to be redacted from the registrant’s details; what requirements there are for data retention beyond the life of the domain registration; and the treatment of registration data where a privacy/proxy service is being utilised by the registrant.
Access to the redacted registration data, which is a priority for IP interests and law enforcement, has not yet been addressed. The development of a Unified Access Model was a key element of the EPDP’s Charter that was reserved to be dealt with during the Phase 2 work.
In addition to approving the Phase 1 Final Report, the GNSO Council’s vote on 4 March also initiated the work on Phase 2, and so most of the EPDP sessions in Kobe are expected to be devoted to brainstorming on the approach to this work, identifying possible resource requirements, and developing a work plan and working methods. Key considerations will be the timing and pace of this work, with a number of GNSO Councillors arguing that it will not be possible to maintain the same pace as Phase 1, and that this is not necessary since there is no external time deadline. On the flip side, of course, for those who need a predictable process for accessing the masked registrant data, time is very much of the essence.