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The EPDP on Generic Top-Level Domain Registration Data: Phase 1 Down, Phase 2 To Go

The ICANN community recently gathered in Kobe, Japan for its first meeting of the year and it was certainly a busy week for attendees. Much of the meeting centered around the work of the Expedited Policy Development Process (EPDP) to address gTLD registration data.

As a member of the EPDP team, we had been hard at work since being formed in August of 2018. Just prior to the Kobe meeting, we published the phase 1 Final Report. The report was subsequently submitted to the GNSO council where it was approved despite the objection of two groups who voted against the report. It is now up to the ICANN Board of Directors to approve the report after a required public comment period.

This step was an important milestone with the report coming in at 188 pages - it represents thousands of hours of work by everyone involved. Some of the highlights include:

  • The administrative contact no longer becomes part of the data collected by registrars and registries—the technical contact becomes optional.
  • There will be a phased approach to handling data in the Organization field to ensure that it does not contain any personally identifiable information. If such data does exist and the registered name holder chooses so, the field will not be published.
  • Registrars must, within a commercially reasonable timeframe, provide for the opportunity for the registered name holder to publish full contact information (including e-mail address).
  • The recommended effective date for the new policy is February 29, 2020, and until that time, contracted parties may continue to implement measures consistent with the Temporary Specification which technically will expire in May 2019.

While the publication and approval of the report by the GNSO council was certainly reason for the community to celebrate in Kobe, let’s remember the work really has just begun. Assuming the report is approved by the ICANN Board, the 188-page report then needs to be converted into actual policy language which happens through the implementation process headed up by ICANN staff. This is where the 29 recommendations the team put forth get turned into actual policy language that becomes binding on contracted parties.

Additionally, this work only represents phase 1 of the EPDP team charter. The next phase of work will address the proposed standardized model for disclosure (previously referred to as access) of non-public registration data, in addition to several important items that the team could not reach consensus on during phase 1.

Already there is pressure to get through phase 2 work as expeditiously as possible, and it’s a completely reasonable expectation. That said, the pace at which phase 1 was completed is not sustainable and the community volunteers participating in the process have, almost universally, voiced that. Of course, it’s in everyone’s best interest to do the work in a reasonable timeframe, but I would caution against creating artificial deadlines and pressures.

Participating in the EPDP work has certainly presented its challenges (mostly because of the time commitment), but ultimately it has been a rewarding experience and I’m looking forward to ensuring the phase 1 work is implemented in an effective manner, and the phase 2 work kicks off and has a successful conclusion.

In the meantime, the EPDP team has been on a bit of a break while we bring on a new Chair, so I know everyone is enjoying the time off! Back to work soon enough though!

By Matt Serlin, Domain Name Industry Veteran and Advisor

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