ICANN’s board of directors has given its clearest indication yet that it’s likely to shoot down community proposals for a new system for handling requests for private Whois data.
Referring to the proposed System for Standardized Access and Disclosure, ICANN chair Maarten Botterman said “the Board has indicated it may not be able to support the SSAD recommendations as a whole”.
In a letter (pdf) to the GNSO Council last night, Botterman wrote:
the complexity and resources required to implement all or some of the recommendations may outweigh the benefits of an SSAD, and thus may not be in the best interests of ICANN nor the ICANN community.
The SSAD would be a centralized way for accredited users such as trademark lawyers, security researchers and law enforcement officers to request access to Whois data that is currently redacted due to privacy laws such as GDRP.
The system was the key recommendation of a GNSO Expedited Policy Development Process working group, but an ICANN staff analysis last year, the Operational Design Phase, concluded that it could be incredibly expensive to build and operate while not providing the functionality the trademark lawyers et al require of it.
ICANN was unable to predict with any accuracy how many people would likely use SSAD. It will this week present its final ODP findings, estimating running costs of between $27 million and $107 million per year and a user base of 25,000 to three million.
At the same time, ICANN has pointed out that its own policies cannot overrule GDPR. Registries and registrars still would bear the legal responsibility to decide whether to supply private data to requestors, and requestors could go to them directly to bypass the cost of SSAD altogether. Botterman wrote:
This significant investment in time and resources would not fundamentally change what many in the community see as the underlying problem with the current process for requesting non-public gTLD registration data: There is no guarantee that SSAD users would receive the registration data they request via this system.
ICANN management and board seem to be teasing the GNSO towards revising and scaling back its recommendations to make SSAD simpler and less costly, perhaps by eliminating some of its more expensive elements.
This moves ICANN into the perennially tricky territory of opening itself up to allegations of top-down policy-making.
Previously, the Board highlighted its perspective on the importance of a single, unified model to ensure a common framework for requesting non-public gTLD registration data. However, in light of what we’ve learned to date from the ODP, the Board has indicated it may not be able to support the SSAD recommendations as a whole as envisioned by the EPDP. The Board is eager to discuss next steps with the Council, as well as possible alternatives to design a system that meets the benefits envisioned by the EPDP
The board wants to know whether the GNSO Council shares its concerns. The two parties will meet via teleconference on Thursday to discuss the matter. The ODP’s final report may be published before then.
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