ICANN board votes to reject .org registry sale to private equity firm Ethos Capital

“The ICANN Board finds that the public interest is better served in withholding consent as a result of various factors that create unacceptable uncertainty.”

ICANN, the entity that oversees web addresses, said on Friday it voted against a $1.1 billion deal to sell control of .org domains to a private investment firm. The decision follows persistent protest and activism “from internet pioneers and officials including California’s attorney general [Xavier Becerra],” reports Joe Menn at Reuters on Friday. Read the rest

DOT ORG DRAMA: New promises from private equity firm trying to buy up .org

Ethos, the private equity firm owned by Republican billionaires that is trying to buy the rights to operate the internet’s .org domain range, said on Friday it will cap price hikes, and will agree to create an advisory board with veto powers to partly address some of the concerns of the nonprofit community. Read the rest

Private equity take-over of .ORG domain delayed

Some activists must have been heard, California's Attorney General has delayed the transaction wherein a private equity firm is buying the .ORG tld, seeking more information.

Mashable:

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra sent a letter to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) demanding more information about the private equity takeover of the .org domain registry. The attorney general is seeking answers to 35 questions concerning the sale as well as documents sent between ICANN, private equity firm Ethos Capital, and Public Interest Registry (PIR), which manages the .org domain.

Ethos Capital disclosed last year that it was acquiring PIR from its non-profit parent organization, the Internet Society, for $1.135 billion.

ICANN, the non-profit organization that oversees domain names, disclosed the letter on its website along with its own correspondence with PIR, informing it of the development. Previously, ICANN had until Feb. 17 to approve or deny the sale. According to ICANN, as a result of the California AG’s letter, it’s seeking to delay this deadline until April 20.

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Angelenos! Come to ICANN this Friday to Save Dot ORG!

The disgraceful, shady plan to sell control over the .ORG domains to a private equity fund controlled by Republican billionaires is on the ropes, with tens of thousands of people and thousands of .org registrants having signed a petition calling for a halt to the deal. This Friday, we're converging on the ICANN offices in Playa Vista to deliver that petition. I'll be there. Will you? Read the rest

ICANN needs to ask more questions about the sale of .ORG

[The selloff of the .ORG domain name registry to a private equity fund is fractally terrible, but it's in danger, thanks to public outcry. My EFF colleague Mitch Stoltz lays out the grotesque contours of the deal and its many deficiencies in this comprehensive overview. -Cory]

Over 21,000 people, 660 organizations, and now six Members of Congress have asked ICANN, the organization that regulates the Internet’s domain name system, to halt the $1.135 billion deal that would hand control over PIR, the .ORG domain registry, to private equity. There are crucial reasons this sale is facing significant backlash from the nonprofit and NGO communities who make the .ORG domain their online home, and perhaps none of them are more concerning than the speed of the deal and the dangerous lack of transparency that’s accompanied it.  Read the rest

Angelenos! I'm speaking in Culver City tomorrow about the sale of .ORG to private equity

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. Read the rest

ICANN hits pause on the sale of .ORG to Republican billionaires' private equity fund

Here's what's happened: first, ICANN (the legendarily opaque US corporation that runs the internet's Domain Name System) approved a change in pricing for .ORG domains, run by the nonprofit Internet Society (ISOC) through its Public Interest Registry (PIR), allowing the registry to raise prices. The change was done entirely by staff, without board approval. Read the rest

We need to save .ORG from arbitrary censorship by halting the private equity buy-out

[The sale of the .ORG top-level domain to a private equity fund run by a bunch of Republican billionaires is a corrupt, revolting perversion. Here, my EFF colleague Mitch Stoltz does an excellent job of explaining what's at stake and how you can take action. -Cory]

The .ORG top-level domain and all of the nonprofit organizations that depend on it are at risk if a private equity firm is allowed to buy control of it. EFF has joined with over 250 respected nonprofits to oppose the sale of Public Interest Registry, the (currently) nonprofit entity that operates the .ORG domain, to Ethos Capital. Internet pioneers including Esther Dyson and Tim Berners-Lee have spoken out against this secretive deal. And 12,000 Internet users and counting have added their voices to the opposition. Read the rest

Civil society groups protest the sale of .ORG to a private equity fund and a collection of Republican billionaires

Earlier this month, management of the .org top-level domain underwent a radical shift: first, ICANN dropped price-caps on .org domains, and then the Internet Societ (ISOC) flogged the registry off to Ethos Capital, a private equity fund, and a consortium of three families of Republican billionaires: the Perots, the Romneys, and the Johnsons. Read the rest

Web's inventor and MIT prof explain ICANN to Ted Cruz, using small words

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers is a corporation that manages one of the critical, centralized pieces of the internet's underlying infrastructure, the domain name system's root. Read the rest

Tiny South Pacific island to lose free/universal Internet lifeline

The way most of the world knows about Niue, a 100 square mile island in the south Pacific with a population of about 1,100, is because of its country-code top-level domain (CCTLD), which is the ubiquitous .nu. Read the rest

TPP means no more domain privacy

Last summer, thousands of organizations and individuals wrote to ICANN to defend domain-name proxies that keep registrants' personal information private -- a crucial facility used by people in danger of political or personal reprisal, from people fleeing gender violence to dissidents documenting human rights abuses. Read the rest

LISTEN: The post-American Internet, with Schneier, ICANN boss, global academics

Michael writes, "The Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Future Tense hosted a panel discussion on post-USA/NSA controlled Internet possibilities.

The United States has signalled its willingness to give up its unofficial stewardship role of the Internet. Who should take over, and who will?" Read the rest

How the US government exerts control over ICANN

Michael Geist sez, "The debate over Internet governance for much of the past decade has often come down to a battle between ICANN and the ITU (a UN body), which in turn is characterized as a choice between a private-sector led, bottoms-up, consensus model (ICANN) or a governmental-controlled approach. The reality has always been far more complicated. The U.S. still maintains contractual control over ICANN, while all governments exert considerable power within the ICANN model through the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC)."

While the GAC claims its role is merely to provide 'advice' to ICANN, it often seems to take the view that its suggestions can't be refused. Indeed, late on Friday, ICANN proposed a by-law change that would grant governments even greater control over its decision-making process. At the moment, ICANN looks to various supporting organizations to develop policies designed to represent the views of many different stakeholders, including the GAC. Where the GAC and the ICANN board disagree on a policy issue, the ICANN board decision governs provided that a simple majority of board members vote against the GAC advice and that ICANN provide an explanation for the decision.

ICANN is now proposing that the threshold be increased so that 2/3 of eligible ICANN board members would be required to vote against GAC advice in order to reject it. The increased threshold would grant governments enormous power over ICANN, coming close to an effective veto over decisions based on broad consultations and participation from around the world. With the GAC intervening with increasing frequency (particularly on new generic TLD issues), ICANN has maintained that it is not required to follow the governmental advice.

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Great video explainer: Vint Cerf on ICANN and NTIA

The "father of the Internet" explains why the Congressional posturing and global freakout about the US National Telecommunications and Information Administration stepping back from management of the Internet domain name system is misplaced. Read the rest

Nobody cares about the future of the Internet

John Oliver told us that "If you want to do something evil, put it inside something that sounds incredibly boring," and there's no domain in which that is more true than the world of Internet governance. Read the rest