Stop .Org Sale: NGO leaders Warn at Davos, Sen. Warren says it fails public interest test

This is a follow up update to our previous post  Why you might soon buy .Org for Non Profit domains at higher prices. New efforts have increased to urge ICANN and ISOC at Davos  to stop the pending private equity sale of the .Org Domain because the security of civil society should not be entrusted to private equity.

To bring you upto speed, last year we wrote how the .Org domains could be costlier. This is because the very potential possibility of the current .Org domains Public Interest Registry (PIR) which was formed by Internet Society (ISOC) changing hands after it announced that it sould be acquired by a largely unknown private equity company Ethos Capital.

There have been numerous efforts to stop this sale, this includes Six U.S. lawmakers among them US Dems. Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, Rony Wyden, Richard Blumenthal, Edward Markey, Anna Eshoo, and Mark Pocan who have written to ICANN and asking  it to reject the sale of .Org. The Lawmakers wrote

“The Ethos Capital takeover of the .ORG domain fails the public interest test in numerous ways: it threatens the quality and reliability of .ORG websites, and could severely limit access to these domains via price increases and ‘arbitrary censorship,'”… “And the current commitments and agreements made by Ethos Capital fail to mitigate these risks.”
They also described how the pending private equity takeover would saddle PIR with debt and give an unproven private equity firm substantial authority and virtually unlimited power to raise prices, reduce or modify services, monetize its power over the top-level domain, and fail to run the domain in a manner consistent with the public interest.
Another letter to Andrew Sullivan, president and CEO of the Internet Society (ISOC), and Göran Marby, president and CEO of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has emerged from the just ended World Economic Forum’s annual 2020 meeting in Davos, Switzerland. The missive is signed by heads of 11 major international nongovernmental organizations on Wednesday including; Greenpeace International, Access Now, Human Rights Watch, the ACLU, the International Trade Union Confederation, Sierra Club, Amnesty International, Consumer Reports,, Color of Change, and Transparency International.

“Free expression around the world is increasingly endangered by government and corporate players, which is why we are joining other civil society organizations in making public our concerns over the .org sale,” the ACLU’s Anthony D. Romero said in a statement. “The internet is crucial to the integrity of civil liberties and human rights work, and also the safety of those doing it. The security of civil society should not be entrusted to private equity.”

The leaders also urged both the ISOC and ICANN management to “facilitate an open and transparent review of the circumstances that led to this proposal” and “adopt and implement safeguards to ensure that should there be any change in the ownership of .org in the future, that it not lead to increased barriers to entry online or instability for nonprofit civil society organizations.”

Proper due diligence must be done to assess any potential adverse impacts on civil societyand ensure proper safeguards are in place to mitigate those risks and prevent any harms. At this time, we therefore call upon you to stop this sale. The letter concludes.

This Friday, a SaveDotOrg Protest has been organized at ICANN

The organizers are urging interested people to

Join us in demanding that ICANN commit to a process that includes the voices and priorities of nonprofits and grassroots organizations. The .ORG domain isn’t up for sale without our participation. We’ll rally outside ICANN’s offices in Los Angeles on Friday, January 24. This is an important moment in the SaveDotOrg campaign, and we want you to join us!

Date: Friday, January 24, 2020
Time: 9 am – 11 am
Location: ICANN, 12025 Waterfront Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90094
Needs: Come as you are. We’ll have shirts and signs, and you are welcome to make your own!

Everyone who wants to join is welcome. We’ll gather in physically accessible areas. Media are being invited.

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