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WHOIS Access and Interim GDPR Compliance Model: Latest Developments and Next Steps

Brian Winterfeldt

WHOIS access and development of an interim GDPR compliance model remains THE hot topic within the ICANN community. Developments are occurring at a break-neck pace, as ICANN and contracted parties push for an implementable solution ahead of the May 25, 2018 effective date of the GDPR.

To quickly recap:

  • Between November 11, 2017 and January 11, 2018, various ICANN community participants submitted different proposed interim GDPR compliance models to ICANN;
  • On January 12, 2018, ICANN published a set of three proposed interim GDPR compliance models of its own design for community input;
  • On January 24, 2018, the ICANN Intellectual Property and Business Constituencies (IPC and BC, respectively) held a community-wide webinar, with in-person attendees in Washington, DC and Brussels, to discuss the ICANN and community models, and key issues and concerns in developing an interim compliance model while preserving access to WHOIS data for specific legitimate purposes, including law enforcement, cybersecurity, consumer protection, and intellectual property enforcement, among other business and individual user needs;
  • On January 29, 2018, ICANN formally closed its community input period on the compliance models;
  • On February 1, 2018, the IPC and BC sent a joint letter to the Article 29 Working Party, with a copy to ICANN, providing an overview of WHOIS uses and needs for law enforcement, cybersecurity, consumer protection and intellectual property enforcement, and how these legitimate purposes fit within the framework of the GDPR;
  • On February 2, 2018, ICANN published a matrix of all the proposed interim compliance models, and a draft summary of discussion and comments regarding the models;
  • On February 7, 2018, the European Commission provided additional input to ICANN regarding the various proposed compliance models; and
  • Between February 10 and February 16, 2018, ICANN provided updates to various community leaders regarding a compliance model that ICANN had begun to coalesce around, based on the prior models, community input, and community discussions (the "convergence model").

ICANN is now poised to formally publish the convergence model, although the community continues to discuss and seek a solution that is acceptable for all stakeholders. As part of those continued discussions, the IPC and BC will be hosting another cross-community discussion, following up on their co-hosted event on January 24. This second event will take place on Thursday February 22, 2018 from 9 am to 12 pm Eastern (US) (1400 – 1700 UTC), with in-person participation in the Winterfeldt IP Group Offices in Washington, DC and the ICANN office in Brussels, Belgium. There will also be remote participation available through Adobe Connect.

We invite all readers to participate in this important ongoing conversation. Please RSVP to denise@winterfeldt.law if you or your colleagues would like to join in person in Washington, DC or Brussels, or via remote participation.

By Brian Winterfeldt, Founder and Principal at Winterfeldt IP Group
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Related topics: Domain Names, ICANN, Law, Privacy, Whois
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