ICANN disputes FDA Whois presentation

ICANN, the body that governs domain policy and accreditation, has taken issue with a recent presentation by US Food and Drug administration representative Dan Burke in a webinar regarding their Whois system, Domain Name Wire reports.

ICANN CEO Göran Marby sent the letter disputing the characterization Burke had about Whois and how it operates. This presentation was made to The Coalition for a Secure and Transparent Internet, an organization that is advocating for open Whois in light of EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). In the presentation, Burke highlighted the following aspects of Whois which ICANN disputed:

  1. A requestor must have a subpoena to access non-public registration data – In a departure from the prepared remarks that stated that most access requires a subpoena, Burke instead stated that all access requires it. ICANN accreditation rules indicate that all ICANN registrars are required to provide reasonable access from legitimate requests, but Marby noted that how this occurs in practice differs from registrar to registrar.
  2. ICANN salaries and those at registrars/registries are tied to selling more domains. – Burke insinuated that ICANN tolerates bad domains for monetary reasons, an allegation that ICANN disputes.
  3. ICANN ignores complaints from government agencies – Burke highlighted his own frustration in working with ICANN, finding the organization difficult to work with. ICANN has in turn explained its role and how to participate in its policy decisions.

Ultimately, the data that Burke requires to pursue abusive practices among pharmaceutical distributors can be made available upon an official request and as noted by Domain Name Wire, even bad data can be useful in connecting certain networks required to obtain subpoenas. This always must be balanced with the registrant’s desire for privacy, a notion that ICANN has considered since its inception.