Following months of controversy concerning the future of the .org top level domain (TLD), the internet registration watchdog ICANN has finally decided to reject the $1.1bn sale of the .org domain and the Public Interest Registry (PIR) to the private equity firm Ethos Capital.
The sale raised concerns from its start as the .org domain is generally used by non-profits and giving its control to a for profit company could make things much more difficult for these organizations. Just last summer, ICANN lifted price caps on .org domains and many fear that Ethos Capital would do something similar if it was put in charge of the .org TLD.
More recently, California's Attorney general Xavier Becerra sent a letter to ICANN in which he urged it not to approve the sale as it “raises serious concerns that cannot be overlooked”.
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Perhaps either Becerra's letter or the growing outrage over the sale got through to ICANN as the watchdog's board has announced that it has made the decision to reject the sale of PIR from the non-profit Internet Society (ISOC) to Ethos Capital.
.org domain sale
In its announcement, ICANN's board said that it conducted thorough due diligence before coming to its decision.
The board evaluated hundreds of pages of documentation and responses provided by PIR, ISOC and Ethos Capital to reach the conclusion that rejecting the sale is the right decision. ICANN explained the reasoning behind the board's decision in a blog post, saying:
“The Board was presented with a unique and complex situation – impacting one of the largest registries with more than 10.5 million domain names registered. After completing its evaluation, the ICANN Board finds that the public interest is better served in withholding consent as a result of various factors that create unacceptable uncertainty over the future of the third largest gTLD registry.”
At this time, it is still unclear as to whether or not the control of the .org domain will end up changing hands in the future.
For the time being though, non-profits and other organizations that utilize .org domains can rest easy knowing that a for profit company won't be in control of the .org TLD.
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