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At the Crossroads: The State of Domain Registration Data Services

The Internet's users rely on domain name registration information for vital purposes, including providing security, problem-solving, and legal and social accountability. The data is so important that users perform more than two billion WHOIS queries every day. ICANN has instituted new data policies over the last two years, and is also directing a migration to a new technical protocol, RDAP, that will replace WHOIS access in the near future. So at this critical juncture, how is it all going? more

Namecheap, EFF and the Dangerous Internet Wild West

This past week I had two items pop up on my alerts. The first was about Facebook suing domain registrar Namecheap for allowing domains that impersonate the social media company and can be used for scams. The second was a plea by the Electronic Frontier Foundation to join in its crusade to stop the sale of the .ORG domain. It took me a moment to realize these are linked. more

The Sad Story of Private Public Interest Commitments (PICs)

The voluntary Public Interest Commitments (PIC) have a long and sad history at ICANN. They were a process never created or evaluated by the Multistakeholder process, thrown together for one purpose and allowed to morph into a mechanism for an almost unlimited number of un-reviewed other purposes. Disputes are delegated to a resolution process which itself was never evaluated for... more

The Legal Enforceability of PIR's Public Interest Commitment

Since Ethos announced its investment in PIR last fall, Ethos has welcomed the opportunity to engage with .ORG registrants and users to hear their ideas and answer their questions. We listened to concerns expressed in the community, and we worked to address them. We announced a number of voluntary commitments that Ethos is prepared to make, and then we listened to feedback from the community on the scope of those commitments, as well as on the enforceability of those commitments. more

Consistency, Urgency, and Transparency Needed for Registrant Data Requests

As we reported in our Post-GDPR Compliance Rate retrospective in January 2020, registrar compliance rates in response to verified requests for redacted registrant information using the Appdetex WHOIS Requestor System was 25 percent. Our most recent report shows the compliance rate has increased to 27 percent, based upon a total of 243 requests for redacted WHOIS information sent to 68 registrars over the period starting January 1, 2020, through February 24, 2020. more

Accountability Initiatives to Secure a Strong Future for .ORG

Last fall, when we put forth our bid to acquire the Public Interest Registry (PIR), our announcement - made jointly with PIR and its parent, the Internet Society - was met with questions. We took them seriously and made a conscious effort to engage with representative members of the .ORG community to deepen our understanding. We found that a consistent message was that the commitments made by Ethos since this fall addressed most of the community's issues, but there was a question as to whether they were enforceable and if so, how? more

Explaining the Legal Enforceability of the PIC Proposed by Ethos for .ORG

Ethos Capital has recently announced that it has voluntarily proposed to add an amendment to Public Interest Registry's (PIR) .ORG Registry Agreement with ICANN in the form of a Public Interest Commitment, also known as a "PIC." In the press release Ethos indicated that the PIC would become "legally binding" and "enforceable" both by ICANN and by members of the community. I anticipate that some would ask a number of logical questions: How would that work in practice? more

ISOC and the PIR Sale: Lessons Being Learned

The PIR/.ORG transaction is a watershed moment for ISOC. What had once seemed (at least to ISOC and its Board) to be ISOC's chance to transform its finances now seems to many to be a threat to ISOC's essence, and even its very existence. From the ISOC-NY perspective, this entire affair points out the paucity of community-involved multistakeholder participation in ISOC's critical decision-making processes (and other processes, too). more

Stop Propagating False Information About the .ORG Transaction

We were disappointed to see The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette publish a recent editorial on February 13 about the sale of Public Interest Registry (PIR, the company that operates .ORG) that propagates false information about the transaction, including runaway prices, censorship and lack of experience. Runaway prices? Ethos Capital and PIR have committed to capping price increases to no more than ten percent per year on average. more

ICANN: Do Not Allow Closed New gTLDs With Generic Strings

Within the next year, the ICANN Board may well face a decision that will help determine whether ICANN is capable of serving the global public interest or whether it is degenerating into an industry-controlled self-regulatory association. The issue can be framed quite simply: will ICANN approve a process for the creation of a new wave of new generic top level domains that will include "closed generic" gTLDs? more

Here's How We Can Truly #SaveDotOrg

Many of my friends in the civil-liberties and Internet-law communities have been criticizing the Internet Society's agreement to sell the Public Interest Registry, which administers the .ORG top-level domain. I'm a free-speech guy, so I support their right to raise all these criticisms. But they often ask me directly – knowing that my track record as an Internet civil-libertarian is longer than most – why as a member of the Internet Society (a.k.a. ISOC) board I decided to join the board's unanimous approval of the deal. more

Answering Additional Questions about Ethos' Acquisition of Public Interest Registry (PIR)

A few good questions have circulated in response to my recent blog post seeking clarity around the following: 1) what we mean with respect to adhering to Public Interest Registry's (PIR) historic practices on pricing, and 2) our interpretation of how the new co-operative proposal would reward speculators. With regard to Ethos' pricing commitments: we are not saying that we will raise prices 10% every year -- our commitment is that any price increase would not exceed 10% per year on average, if at all. more

Addressing Recent Media Mischaracterizations of the .ORG Acquisition

Given the level of public interest in Ethos' acquisition of Public Interest Registry ("PIR") from the Internet Society, it is no surprise that this agreement continues to attract press attention. Ethos welcomes open discussion on this important investment, and we are of course following the media coverage closely. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to respond point-by-point to every article, so I would like to take this opportunity to address several mischaracterizations of the deal recently reported by Wired, Deutsche Welle, and others. more

Notice, Takedown, Borders, and Scale

I was on the front lines of the SOPA wars, because SOPA touched on two matters of strong personal and professional importance for me: protecting the Internet infrastructure, and protecting the economy from Internet related crime. I've continued to study this field and advise industry participants in the years since then. The 2017-02-20 paper by Annemarie Bridy entitled Notice and Takedown in the Domain Name System: ICANN's Ambivalent Drift into Online Content Regulation deserves an answer, which I shall attempt here. more

Thoughts on Our NPR Interview About Ethos Capital's Acquisition of .ORG

I was glad to join Meghna Chakrabarti on NPR this week for an engaging discussion about Ethos Capital's acquisition of Public Interest Registry (PIR) from the Internet Society, which you can listen to here. I always appreciate an opportunity to answer questions about .ORG, and was pleased to be joined by Andrew Sullivan, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Internet Society, and Esther Dyson, founding chairwoman of ICANN from 1998 to 2000. more

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