ICANN Whois case referred to appeals court in Germany


ICANN Whois case referred to appeals court in Germany

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ICANN’s lawsuit regarding how the Whois system should operate in the context of the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has been referred to the Higher Regional Court in Cologne, Germany.

The Regional Court in Bonn has told ICANN that it has referred the proceedings, according to a statement on Thursday, July 19.

On May 25, the same day that the new EU regulation came into force, ICANN filed injunction proceedings against domain name registrar EPAG in Bonn, where EPAG is based, in an attempt to clarify how the regulation should be interpreted.

ICANN asked the court to clarify whether EPAG should be required to continue to collect administrative and technical contact information for new domain name registrations following the introduction of the GDPR. EPAG had indicated that it would delete the contact information.

Under the Whois system, domain name registries and registrars must provide public access to information on registrants, including their names and addresses.

In response to the lawsuit, EPAG’s owner Tucows Group said it has built a new registration system which “aligns with the GDPR’s principles”.

The Regional Court in Bonn declined to issue an injunction on May 30.

According to ICANN, the court ruled that it would not require EPAG to collect the administrative and technical data for new registrations, but did not indicate whether collecting such data would be a violation of the GDPR.

The court said that because a registrant can provide the same data elements for that registrant as for the administrative and technical contacts, ICANN did not demonstrate that it is necessary to collect additional information for these contacts. 

Last month, ICANN filed an appeal against the decision at the Higher Regional Court of Cologne.

As part of the appeal process, the Regional Court in Bonn exercised its right to re-evaluate its decision, before referring the case to the Higher Regional Court. In its re-evaluation, the lower court did not alter its decision on the injunction, ICANN said.

ICANN said that if the higher court does not agree with the organisation’s reasoning or is unclear about the scope of the GDPR, the court should refer the issues in the appeal to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Whois, ICANN, data protection, data retention, EPAG, domain name registrar, Regional Court in Bonn, Higher Regional Court in Cologne, GDPR

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