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What's Next for Dot-Org

When I began writing about the dot-org sale, it was out of concern for the loss of what I felt strongly was long understood to be a unique place in the Internet's landscape. Like a national park, dot-org deserved special protection. It turns out lots of people and organizations agreed. On April 30th, 2020, The ICANN Board upheld these values. They unanimously withheld consent for a change of control of the Public Interest Registry to a private equity firm. more

ICANN and Attorneys General: Ends, Means and Unintended Ends

In a move, unprecedented in scale, ISOC moved to sell PIR, the registry for .ORG, to a for-profit entity which intends, in turn, to convert PIR into a for-profit entity itself. This move has, understandably, raised concerns from around the Internet community and cast a bright light on ICANN, the nature of its contracts with Registries and the responsibilities of the ICANN Board... As the Vice Chair for Policy of the At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC), I've tried to navigate a consensus involving ALL of those parties because of our diverse membership. more

ICANN Independence and Non-Profits on the Net – Get it Right and Go Forward

Later this week, ICANN is finally going to vote on the proposed sale of .ORG to Ethos Capital. It will decide the future owner of .ORG, but the decision will also provide a window into whether ICANN will remain independent of the U.S. government. It's a big decision, one that can strengthen both ICANN and the NGO community on the web, if we get it right. For nearly a decade, the ICANN community fought hard to untether itself from the U.S. Department of Commerce. more

Preserving ICANN's Independence Through Bold Action – Not Inaction

This week, the ICANN Board will vote on whether to approve the transfer of control of the .ORG domain to a private equity firm called Ethos Capital. This is a weighty decision for ICANN, since in order to approve the sale, it will have to convince itself that this is the right choice in the face of tremendous and widespread opposition, including from those who will be most affected by the sale. more

Even a Pandemic Isn't Enough

The most incredible thing about the dot-org sale is no longer the billion-dollar price tag. It's not surprise fait-accompli announcement. It's not the republican billionaires. It's that the proponents have continued to advocate for it in the midst of the worst crisis the world has faced since the second world war. The biggest crisis in almost a hundred years. One that will reverberate for generations. more

.ORG and Change

The .ORG domain is at a crossroads: What will it be? A simple registry offering domain names for organizations, individuals and others? Or something bigger, as Ethos Capital and the Public Internet Registry propose? Will proposed changes make .ORG better? Or worse? There are valid points on both sides, but as an Internet safety advocate who for two decades has worked to teach children how to be safe online, stop the next young girl from being sex trafficked, and... more

A New Low for the ICANN Multistakeholder Process

ICANN's dismissal of public comments submitted on the .COM Registry Amendment wasn't surprising given that it recently dismissed the public comments on the .Org Renewal Agreement, but the speed and disdain which it demonstrated was. Despite public pronouncements by ICANN President and CEO, Gören Marby and assurances from ICANN Board Chair, Maarten Botterman, that public comments were welcomed and that ICANN would take them seriously... 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

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

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