In May 2012, the Whois Review Team delivered its final report to the ICANN board with a real sense of achievement.
As the system for providing details about who is in charge of any given Internet domain name, the Whois is critical to the proper functioning the domain name system. As such, it is one of four issues highlighted for independent review under ICANN’s deal with the US Government, the Affirmation of Commitments.
Every three years, a cross-community team has to look at the extent to which ICANN’s Whois policy and implementation are effective, meet the legitimate needs of law enforcement and promote consumer trust.
Despite being an apparently inoffensive directory of contact details, Whois has proved one of the most intractable and divisive issues within the ICANN community for more than a decade. The reason why is due to the different interests rolled up within Whois, and how these interact with ICANN’s power dynamics.