National Geographic Comments motions relating to WHOIS now pending before the GNSO Council
National Geographic Society ("National Geographic") welcomes this opportunity to comment on the three motions relating to WHOIS now pending before the GNSO Council. National Geographic strongly supports and endorses Motion 2 -- the objective and comprehensive study to obtain factual information. National Geographic strongly opposes both Motion 1 -- the adoption of the OPOC policy recommendation notwithstanding the numerous outstanding questions and issues pertaining to its implementation -- and Motion 3 -- the elimination of WHOIS through sunsetting. Founded nearly 120 years ago to "increase and diffuse geographic knowledge," National Geographic works to inspire people to care about the planet. For more than a century, National Geographic has sought to expand geographic knowledge worldwide and to promote and protect the conservation of the world's cultural, historical, and natural resources. Its famous NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC magazine is published in more than 31 languages and is read by over 40 million persons worldwide. National Geographic now reaches more than 300 million people worldwide each month through its NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC magazine, and its four other magazines; the National Geographic Channel; television documentaries; films; radio programs; books; DVDs; maps; and interactive media. The NATIONALGEOGRAPHIC.COM website has around 12 million unique visitors a month, over 25% of which are from outside the United States. Real-time access to WHOIS data is critical to National Geographic's ability to, for example, act promptly against cybersquatters and parties misusing our content; to conduct due diligence in licensing, acquisitions, and other transactions; and to perform the clearance necessary for the adoption and use of new program titles and trademarks. Accordingly, National Geographic opposes, and encourages the GNSO Council to reject Motion 3, which calls for the elimination of WHOIS by "sunsetting" the contractual obligations that require the collection and display of WHOIS data. National Geographic submitted on January 15, 2007 Comments on the Preliminary Task Force Report on WHOIS Services. As detailed in those comments, National Geographic had concerns about the absence of any provisions delineating the roles and responsibilities of the OPOC, requiring the OPOC to provide prior consent to its designation; and outlining the parties to whom and the circumstances under which the OPOC must disclose the registrant contact information that would now be withheld from public access. Notwithstanding the tremendous efforts of the recently concluded WHOIS Working Group, virtually all of those issues remain outstanding. It is for this reason that National Geographic opposes and encourages the GNSO Council to reject Motion 1. Motion 1 supports the OPOC policy recommendation and requests that the ICANN staff create a proposed implementation plan. Because critical aspects of the OPOC policy are inextricably intertwined with and embodied by implementation mechanisms and details, it is imprudent to proceed with recommendation of the OPOC policy unless and until all such implementation mechanisms and details are developed and voted upon as part of the policy. National Geographic supports and encourages the GNSO Council to adopt Motion 2 -- the objective and comprehensive study of the uses and abuses of WHOIS data, the characteristics of domain name registrants, and a review and analysis of the different proxy services being used today. It is National Geographic's understanding that no such study has ever been conducted, notwithstanding not only the ICANN staff recommendation in 2003 that such a study be conducted and the numerous significant factual issues relating to proposals to change WHOIS data and its public accessibility. Based on National Geographic's recent experiences with proxy services being used by registrants of domain names infringing its famous NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC mark, it is clear that -- at a minimum -- the standard of "reasonable evidence of actionable harm" now embodied in Section 18.104.22.168 of the Registrar Accreditation Agreement requires clarification, explication and illustration. Thank you for consideration of these comments. Susan Borke National Geographic Society Law, Business and Government Affairs Telephone 202-775-6745 Fax 202-857-5874 This transmission is intended solely for the addressee(s) shown above. It may contain information that is privileged, confidential or otherwise protected from disclosure. Any review, dissemination or use of this transmission or its content by persons other than the intended addressee(s) is strictly prohibited. If you have received this transmission in error, please notify me immediately, e-mail the original to me at the sender's address above by replying to this message and including the text of the transmission received, and permanently delete the original and any copies as well as destroy any printouts of this email.