ASAE, Nonprofits Oppose Sale of .ORG
The pending sale of the .ORG domain registry to a private equity firm called Ethos Capital, first announced last November, has been met by a growing chorus of critics. ASAE and other nonprofit organizations quickly registered concern after the deal was announced that Ethos’ motives in acquiring the rights to run .ORG for more than $1 billion appeared profit driven.
Since 2003, .ORG has been run by a nonprofit corporation called Public Interest Registry (PIR). The registry’s contract to manage .ORG was renewed last year by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which also removed a longstanding price cap of 10 percent for renewal of .ORG domain names. Should the sale to Ethos Capital go through, the private equity firm could hike fees on the nearly 10.5 million registered .ORG names held by associations and other nonprofit groups. There is also concern that authoritarian countries around the world could find it easier to censor opposition groups, or even threaten opponents.
In a letter sent to the Departments of Justice and Commerce and the Federal Trade Commission, ASAE asked the federal government to intercede and stop the pending sale. In response to public outcry from the .ORG community, ICANN delayed the sale in order to gather information about the proposed transaction.
“From the Red Cross to the Girl Scouts, all of the world’s leading nonprofits rely on dot-org domains for websites, email and fundraising,” said Jacob Malthouse, a former vice president with ICANN and a critic of the sale. “Imagine Goldman Sachs buying the New York water supply.”