Help Us Shape The Internet's Future

WHOIS: It’s Better to Burn out than Fade Away

3 March 2009 - 16:45 - 18:15
Alameda 1 (Hotel Meliá)

Organisers: Wendy Seltzer, Beau Brendler

Format: Panel discussion and Q&A

Description: Some in the ICANN community have reached a point of burnout on the WHOIS issue after seven years of debate that's led to little change. And those who have taken sides in the debate hold their beliefs as articles of faith, making compromise difficult. Do privacy laws outside the United States demonstrate a need for change or abolition of the current system? Is there anything to replace it? Is WHOIS lookup, despite serious imperfections in the data, too valuable a tool for consumers and law enforcement agencies trying to stop cybercrime? Can a technological solution address both privacy concerns and data availability and accuracy concerns?  Right now, ICANN is considering whether to commission further, in-depth study of WHOIS. The list of studies is long and potentially expensive, and seen by many as unnecessary, or, at worst, a stalling tactic, preserving a status quo no one is happy with. Join this panel discussion-style session and get a background on WHOIS issues and some perspectives from multiple sides of the debate, along with some hands-on understanding of what studies are currently being considered, and whether they might actually lead to meaningful policy change. Some suggested advance reading:  Invited speakers include Kristina Rosette, Garth Bruen, and Robin Gross.

Background: What is the "At-Large Summit

The Mexico City meeting is a landmark for ICANN's At-Large community ("At-Large" is the name used for the individual Internet user community participating in ICANN).

The whole At-Large community will be meeting together face-to-face in the 'At-Large Summit'. Approximately 90 representatives of At-Large organisations (called "At-Large Structures") are already confirmed. You will be able to spot them easily, as each will have a ribbon indicating their status as a Summit delegate attached to their ICANN meeting badges.

The Summit is being held 28 February through 5 March 2009 at the Mexico City Sheraton and also at the nearby Melia Mexico Reforma Hotel. All ICANN meeting attendees are invited and encouraged to attend the sessions, all of which are open to everyone.

As proposed by the At-Large community, the Summit has the following objectives:

* Develop the community's capacity for engagement in ICANN by increasing its knowledge and understanding of the key issues confronting ICANN and ICANN's roles and responsibilities;
* Provide an opportunity for the community to finalise and present its advice on some of the most important issues facing the ICANN community today; and last but not least,
* Highlight the successes of the community in recent years and build upon them to ensure that the interests of the world's more than 1 billion individual Internet users are well represented in the development of Internet name and number policy.

Instructions on how to participate remotely may be found at this URL:


Summit Microsite: The At-Large Summit microsite has complete information at: