Whois Disclosure System to cost up to $3.3 million, run for one year
ICANN has published its game plan for rolling out a Whois Disclosure System ahead of next week’s ICANN 75 public meeting in Kuala Lumpur.
The Org reckons the system will take nine months to build and will cost up to $3.3 million to develop and run for two years, although it might wind up getting shut down after just one year.
The Whois Disclosure System, previously known as SSAD Light, is a mechanism whereby anyone with an ICANN account — probably mainly IP lawyers in practice — can request unredacted private Whois data from registrars.
The system is to be built using retooled software from the current Centralized Zone Data Service, which acts as a hub for researchers who want to request zone files from gTLD registry operators.
ICANN’s design paper (pdf), which contains many mock-ups of the likely user interface, describes the new system like this:
Just as in CZDS, a requestor navigates to the WHOIS Disclosure System web page, logs into their ICANN Account, and is presented with a user experience much like the current CZDS. In this experience, requestors can see pending and past requests as well as metadata (timestamps, status, etc.) associated with those requests. For a requestor’s pending requests, they can see all the information related to that request.
Requests filed with the system will be routed to the relevant registrar via the Naming Services Portal, whereupon the registrar can choose how to deal with it. The system doesn’t change the fact that registrars have this discretion.
But the system will be voluntary for not only the requesters — who can still contact the registrar directly if they wish — but also the registrars. One can imagine smaller and frequently abused registrars won’t want the hassle.
The cost of this system will be $2.7 million in staffing costs, with $90,000 in external licensing costs and another $500,000 in contingency costs. Because ICANN has not budgeted for this, it will come from the Supplemental Fund for Implementation of Community Recommendations, which I believe currently has about $20 million in it.
This is far and away cheaper than the full-fat SSAD originally proposed by the GNSO, which ICANN in January estimated could cost up to $27 million to build over five years.
While cheaper, there are still substantial questions remaining about whether it will be popularly used, and whether it will be useful in getting private Whois data into the hands of the people who say they need it.
ICANN is saying that the Whois Disclosure System will run for one year “at which point the data sets collected will be analyzed and presented for further discussion between the GNSO Council and Board”.
The design paper will be discussed at multiple ICANN 75 sessions, starting this weekend.
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