Head of NTIA reiterates United States’ position on Whois data.

At ICANN 61 in Puerto Rico today, NTIA chief David Redl again called for restraint in changes made to Whois.

Redl and the U.S. government are concerned about the effect that limiting public Whois information will have for law enforcement, intellectual property and security interests.

Here are his comments:

As we look ahead, one of the top priorities for the United States in ICANN is the preservation of the WHOIS service.

As you know, the WHOIS service is an incredibly valuable tool for governments, businesses, intellectual property rights holders, and individual Internet users around the world.

I am pleased to see that ICANN and the community have committed to find a solution that maintains the WHOIS service to the greatest extent possible in the face of data protection and privacy regulations such as the European General Data Protection Regulation.

The United States and other governments in the GAC have stated their commitment to maintaining a WHOIS service that is quickly accessible for legitimate purposes.

With respect to the recently published interim model, we are pleased that ICANN was able to pull from so many different interests and needs expressed by the community. That being said, the United States would encourage revisions to the model that would permits access to the most amount of registration data as possible. We think there is more that can be done to achieve this.

Additionally, the United States remains concerned with how access to WHOIS information for legitimate purposes will be maintained in the period between the date of GDPR enforcement, May 25, and the time in which the community is able to develop and agree to a formal accreditation processes. Plans need to be put in place to ensure that the users behind the already defined legitimate purposes – such as law enforcement, intellectual property enforcement, and cybersecurity – are not stymied in their efforts to serve the public interest.

The United States will not accept a situation in which WHOIS information is not available or is so difficult to gain access to that it becomes useless for the legitimate purposes that are critical to the ongoing stability and security of the Internet. We look forward to working with ICANN and the community to see this through.

One key thing to note is that, by design, the U.S. government is just one voice in this discussion. This design prevents one government from exerting too much control, like the fears Ted Cruz has about China and Russia.

Of course, the U.S. government could pass a law requiring registrars to make information public and put it at odds with the European Union’s GDPR, which is the cause for the Whois overhaul.

A big issue that is coming up is how to determine what legitimate interests are within law enforcement, IP and security groups. There are tens of thousands (if not more) security researchers and companies in existence and millions of intellectual property holders. What qualifies them to get access to Whois data?

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