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ICANN board rejects sale of .org domain

(Image credit: Image Credit: Atm2003 / Shutterstock)

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has turned down Ethos Capital's offer to buy the .org top-level domain from Public Interest Registry (PIR).

In a blog post explaining its decision, ICANN said it had reservations about Ethos Capital's intentions and the fact the sale would have resulted in a $360 million debt for PIR.

By transferring ownership to Ethos Capital, .org would have been delivered into the hands of "an entity that is bound to serve the interests of its corporate stakeholders, and which has no meaningful plan to protect or serve the .ORG community,” accord to the blog.

Both Ethos and ISOC (The Internet Society – PIR’s founder) have condemned the decision.

“Today’s action opens the door for ICANN to unilaterally reject future transfer requests based on agenda-driven pressure by outside parties,” said an Ethos statement, in riposte.

ISOC, meanwhile, expressed similar displeasure and suggested ICANN had stepped beyond its remit.

“Although the Internet Society respects ICANN’s role in supporting the Internet’s technical coordination functions, we are disappointed that ICANN has acted as a regulatory body it was never meant to be. Despite ICANN’s decision, our work to connect the unconnected and strengthen the Internet will continue," it said.

On the opposite side of the fence, some parties praised the decision. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), for example, described it as “a major victory for the millions of non-profits, civil society organisations, and individuals who make .org their home online.”

Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Edward Markey (D-MA), together with Representative Anna Eshoo (D-CA) also approved of the move.

“This deal would have saddled the .org registry with hundreds of millions of dollars of debt, putting it in an unstable position during this current economic crisis, solely to enrich a private equity firm at the expense of users and non-profits,” said Wyden.