New Developments: Disappearing Data: WHOIS Blackout

Further to our IP alert on May 22, two important developments have taken place in the last few days.

First, on Friday, May 25 ICANN filed a legal action in Germany against EPAG, a German ICANN accredited registrar, seeking a ruling by the court on the continued ability of the registrar to collect WHOIS data and preserve it for access by those entities having a legitimate purpose.

This action, intended to preserve WHOIS data, will be monitored by many intellectual property owners and associations and appears to be the first legal measure taken in order to ensure the continued ability of IP owners to access WHOIS information for protecting intellectual property on the Internet.

Second, on Monday, May 28, a meeting was held in Brussels at the European Union Commission High Level Group on Internet Governance attended by representatives of ICANN, the EU Commission, member states, the Belgian Data Protection Authority as well as others.

The Belgian data protection authority representative acknowledged that the adoption of the temporary specification by ICANN was helpful but that compliance efforts were still necessary.

The Belgian data protection authority represented that it along with other data protection authorities in the new European Data Protection Board would continue to assist ICANN with GDPR implementation but that it is ICANN’s responsibility to become compliant with the European Union data protection legal requirements while adopting an adequate model for maintenance of access to WHOIS information by those having legitimate interests.

We will continue to monitor these developments and report on efforts by ICANN to develop a balanced accreditation model.