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ICANN pauses sale of .org domains

(Image credit: Image Credit: Atm2003 / Shutterstock)

The battle between the one per cent and the rest has been raging on the internet for years, and now it seems that the domain name registrars are the latest battlefield.

ICANN (The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) – a non-profit organisation which coordinates the internet's Domain Name System, said it would be reviewing the pending sale of the .org domain manager from a non-profit organisation to a private equity firm. If necessary, it could even block the sale.

The .org domain manager is currently managed by the Public Internet Registry (PIR), a subsidiary of the Internet Society (a non-profit). PIR is looking to sell it to private equity firm Ethos Capital, whose main beneficiaries, according to the internet, are three families of Republican billionaires: the Romneys, the Perots and the Johnsons.

The internet is saying that domain names have become a tool in censoring human rights and non-profit organisations around the world.

But it’s not all about censorship, it’s also about money.

Apparently, ICANN recently approved a change in pricing for .org domains, basically giving PIR the green light to raise the prices. Soon after, “several people involved in that decision” moved from ICANN to either Internet Society or – Ethos Capital.

PIR CEO Jon Nevett wrote a blog post on the topic last week, defending the move and saying it was "the best path for .org's future."

"A diversified portfolio is much better, and less risky, than relying on one company like Public Interest Registry—in one industry—for nearly all of its funding," Nevett wrote.