2022 WHOIS Disclosure Status Quo
As we look back at 2022, we have found that WHOIS data access issues have certainly improved. Tracer has aggregated the 2022 statistics of the WHOIS Requestor System, which are set forth below. These requests were sent on behalf of brand holders citing intellectual property violations.
According to the 2022 aggregate report, a compliant response was received on 2476 of the 8874 submitted requests, which demonstrates a 28% compliance rate. This is a notable improvement from the 9% compliance rate we saw in 2021. Furthermore, of the 2476 compliant responses we received in 2022, 83% provided registrant data and 17% suspended or deleted the domain.
Compliant – received registrant data OR domain was suspended/deleted
Citing Legal Authority – citing GDPR or requiring legal action (UDRP, subpoena, court)
Took Irrelevant Action – took action that did not result in obtaining registrant data (forwarded request to registrant, sent link to contact registrant directly, proxy removed but data still redacted)
Requires Additional Action – new email address or webform, additional documents requested
The increase in compliance correlates with the 2022 trend of a major registrar utilizing their proxy service rather than redacting registrant data. In the same time period this registrar has also increased their compliance in providing the underlying registrant data when requested.
While this demonstrates that an increasing number of registrars are able and willing to work within the Temporary Specifications in complying with requests, there still is no standard process for obtaining the requested information. In 2022, 69% of requests were submitted via email, whereas 31% required a webform submission. Each webform comes with its own separate and often detailed list of requirements, which can be complicated to navigate.
In addition, despite the higher compliance rate, we continue to see a number of requests go unanswered. Of the 8874 requests submitted in 2022, 2184 (25%) did not receive a response. Furthermore, an additional 1118 requests (13%) received only an auto-reply without further follow-up, which confirms in those instances that our requests are being received and ignored.
While the 2022 WRS data suggests progress is being made in terms of WHOIS disclosure, there is always room for improvement. Thus, it is critical that ICANN continue to address these WHOIS data access issues in order to protect the privacy rights of individuals without compromising the ability of law enforcement, security, and IP professionals to obtain the critical information they need.