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.org decision delayed another month

Kevin Murphy, March 18, 2020, 17:13:58 (UTC), Domain Registries

ICANN has been given another month to decided whether or not to approve Ethos Capital’s proposed $1.13 billion acquisition of Public Interest Registry from the Internet Society.

PIR said today that it has agreed to give ICANN until April 20 to give it the yay or nay on the controversial deal.

It seems the disruption and distraction caused by the coronavirus pandemic played at least a small role in the decision. PIR said:

To ensure ICANN and the California Attorney General’s office, with which we have been communicating, have the time they need to address any outstanding questions regarding the transaction, especially in light of current events, we have agreed to an ICANN deadline extension to April 20th. We look forward to ICANN’s decision by this date.

Yesterday, opponents of the deal suggested that the acquisition could interfere with the global pandemic response, but PIR has dismissed these claims today as “misleading and alarmist” and “deceiving the public”.

Meanwhile, PIR has updated the proposed contractual Public Interest Commitments that it believes will address some of its critics’ concerns.

Future changes to the PICs will be subject to ICANN’s public comment process, the company said. This is presumably designed to calm fears that the registry will simply dump the PICs next time its contract comes up for renegotiation.

Given the level of confidence in the efficacy of the public comment process — which I would argue is currently close to zero — I doubt this new promise will have its intended effect.

PIR has also taken on criticism that its proposed .ORG Stewardship Council, designed to make sure .org continues to be managed in the public interest, could easily be captured by Ethos yes-men.

Now, instead of appointing the first five members of the council itself, Ethos will instead recruit an “internationally-recognized executive search firm” to find five suitable candidates from stakeholder groups including ICANN’s Non-Commercial Stakeholder Group and At-Large Advisory Committee.

Those nominations will still be subject to final approval by the PIR board, however, so again I think the deal’s critics will still have complaints to cling to.

PIR expects to announce further details of the council selection process next Monday, March 23.

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Comments (1)

  1. Brad Mugford says:

    This deal is still terrible for pretty much every stake holder, outside Ethos and PIR/ISOC.

    No amount of time or superficial contractual changes is going to change that.

    The comments made it crystal clear that the community is against this. If it is approved, it is over the nearly unanimous objections of the community.

    It was also made clear that the vast majority of comments don’t believe a 10% price hike, per year “on average”, is either justified or deserved while the costs of operating the registry are going down.

    Also, Ethos as a company has no track record.

    Should a private equity company, with no track record, really be trusted with a valuable public resource like .ORG?

    This deal is not in the “public benefit” of the multi-stakeholder process that ICANN is supposed to support.

    Brad

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