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New WHOIS Definition Survives Marrakech ICANN Meeting

Milton Mueller

For now, it appears that the new, more technically focused and privacy-friendly definition of the purpose of Whois survived the Marrakech meeting. The U.S. Government and the copyright and law enforcement interests mounted a major onslaught against the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) action, using the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) as their pressure point.

But privacy advocates counter-mobilized, generating letters of their own and it became clear during a lively GAC-GNSO open meeting that there is no unity among governments on this issue. As the final GAC communiqué was forced to admit:

"Some ...GAC members also expressed concerns regarding the implications for enforcement of laws of the recent GNSO Council decision on a definition on the purpose of WHOIS data. Some GAC members expressed concerns that formulation 2 [the status quo definition] would also not provide an appropriate definition for the purposes of WHOIS."

The Whois Task Force of the GNSO will continue its work based on the current definition. But there is still a lot of uncertainty about how to apply the new definition and how and to what extent law enforcement interests will be accommodated under it.

For a more complete story, go to the Internet Governance Project website, under "News".

By Milton Mueller, Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology School of Public Policy
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Related topics: DNS, ICANN, Internet Governance, Privacy, Whois

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