I am delighted to report that ICANN has engaged NORC at the University of Chicago to conduct a gTLD Whois Registrant Identification study, seeking a foundational understanding of the types of entities and kinds of potentially commercial activities observed among gTLD domain names.
NORC intends to use Whois Registrant contact data to classify the kinds of entities that register a representative sample of gTLD domain names, including natural persons, legal persons and Privacy or Proxy service providers. NORC will then analyze Internet content associated with each sampled domain to classify the entities that appear to be using those domains, along with any observable potentially commercial activities. Draft study results are expected to be published in mid-2012.
Entity and activity classifications are not predefined but will be developed during the study, based on sampled data, to help the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) and ICANN community better understand the variety of possible correlations that may emerge. ICANN looks forward to working with NORC to publish statistics that describe how various gTLD Registrants identify themselves, in order to inform future gTLD Whois policy discussions.
To learn more about the Whois Registrant Identification Study or other studies now being conducted at the request of the GNSO Council, please visit http://gnso.icann.org/issues/whois/.