Late last year, the nonprofit Internet Society abruptly announced a deal to sell control over the Public Interest Registry (which manages all .ORG domain registrations) to Ethos, a newly created private equity fund capitalized by three politically connected families of Republican billionaires. Under the deal, ISOC would get $1.135B to spend on various projects, and PIR would have to return a profit to their private equity investors.
The deal was incredibly fishy. For one thing, Ethos turned out to be staffed with former execs and staffers from ICANN, the body that has the power to bless or halt the sale of PIR — and these people had come to Ethos after overseeing a highly irregular change in policy that would let PIR hit .ORG domain holders with unlimited price-hikes.
Since then, we've learned that the deal to buy PIR will be financed by hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of debt, which PIR will have to make payments on just to keep the lights on — money it will have to make by somehow radically increasing PIR's revenues.
It's not clear how they'll do this, or why it needed doing. .ORG is home to the world's best-established human rights groups and nonprofits, and depending on how Ethos manages PIR, those organizations could see their online presence censored to appease the dictatorial governments they watchdog, or have every visitor to every .ORG tracked and the information sold to the highest bidder.
Tomorrow (January 18), I'll be speaking at LA's Crash Space in Culver City, as part of a meeting to organize a mass protest at ICANN headquarters on Friday, January 24th. The two hour event starts at 3PM and space is limited, so RSVPing is strongly recommended.
660 organizations and 21,000 people have petitioned ICANN to halt the sale of .ORG. We can save the home of the internet's best-loved NGOs from being sold off to private equity looters, but we need your help!
Even if you can't attend Saturday, please join your fellow .ORG supporters, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Fight for the Future, who will be turning out in force for the protest on Friday the 24th, where we'll deliver the petitions to ICANN staff and make it clear: .ORGS are not for sale.
Will you join us to learn about how you can help stand up for the nonprofits, NGOs, and other organizations that stand up for us?
Saturday, January 18
3:00 PM – 5:00 PM
10526 Venice Blvd
Culver City, CA 90232