Whois Task Force

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The Whois Task Force was responsible for improving the effectiveness of the Whois service and to maintain the stability and security of the DNS without compromising the privacy and personal information of individuals who are registered as the administrative or technical contact for a particular domain name.[1]

The Whois Task Force is no longer an active body within ICANN. Current entities involved in working on Whois issues include the Whois Review Team.[2]


The creation of the Whois Task Force followed the conclusion of the work of the Whois Committee, which was organized by the ICANN Staff to provide advice regarding the implementation of Whois Policy for the .com, .net and .org TLDs. The Whois Task Force was officially approved by the Domain Names Supporting Organization Names Council during its meeting on February 8, 2001. It was delegated to perform consultation with the internet community if there is a need to review the ICANN Whois Policy and determine strategies to carry out the process.[3]

Specific Responsibilities of Whois Task Force

The Whois Task Force primary responsibilities include:

  • Provide a clear definition of Whois and the purpose of the registered domain name holder's administrative, technical and billing contacts based on ICANN's mission and core values.
  • Determine which data should be publicly available and how this data should be accessed.
  • Develop ways on how to maintain the accuracy of the Whois database.
  • Identify mechanisms on how to resolve disputes between domain name holders, registrars and registries in accordance with all governmental laws and regulations as well as with ICANN terms of agreements.[4]

Reports & Recommendations

Since its establishment, the Whois Task Force has conducted surveys within the internet community in connection with its assigned task to review the ICANN Whois Policy. The Task Force submitted its initial Policy Report on December 2002, which presented consensus policies to improve the implementation of the accuracy and bulk access of the Whois Data. In its initial report, the Task Force recommended further studies on these areas, which prompted the DNSO Names Council to create the Whois Implementation Committee. The Committee's work was concluded on January 31, 2003. On February 2003, the Whois Task Force submitted its Final Report of Accuracy and Bulk Access of the Whois Data with the following recommendations:

  • ICANN needs to create a uniform and verifiable method to implement Whois by working with relevant parties to amend the current provisions of the Registrar's Accreditation Agreement (RAA).
  1. Sufficient ICANN resources are needed to enforce Whois-related provisions on current agreements
  2. Registrars should be encouraged to provide training for contact points to handle false Whois Data reports
  3. ICANN needs to implement and maintain a complaint form with a ticket number regarding false Whois Data.
  • The Task Force suggested the following for handling accuracy complaints:
  1. Registrars need to ask evidence from complainants
  2. Verify if the complaint and the evidence are true and reasonable
  3. Upon verification, registrars must send an e-mail to the contact persons available in the Whois Data and attach a copy of the disputed contact information with a request to update the information and a reminder to the registrant that failure to provide correct information is grounds for domain name cancellation.
  4. If a registrant fails to update the disputed information within an agreed period, registrars must place a Registrar Hold status to the domain name until the Whois information for the said domain name is updated.
  5. The Registrar Hold Status will be removed only if the registrant contacts the registrar confirming that domain name's contact information was updated with a correct and verifiable information.
  • The Task Force also suggested that ICANN change its May 10, 2002 Registrar Advisory[5] to include the following reminders to registrars:
  1. "Willful provision of inaccurate or unreliable information" are a material breach of the registration agreement, without regard to any failure to respond to a registrar inquiry. A functional definition, based on the actual usability of contact details, should be used for “inaccurate or unreliable.”
  2. " Accepting unverified 'corrected' data from a registrant that has already deliberately provided incorrect data generally is not [not "may not be," as the advisory now states] appropriate."[6]

Whois Task Force Members

Commercial and Business Users Constituency

Internet Service Providers and Connectivity Providers Constituency

Intellectual Property Constituency

Non-Commercial Users Constituency

Registrar Constituency

Registry Constituency

Appointed by Council as independent expert with voting rights

At Large Advisory Committee Liaison (non-voting)