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Decision on .org deal may come sooner than you think

Kevin Murphy, April 28, 2020, 15:50:08 (UTC), Domain Registries

If you’re against the acquisition of .org and are thinking about an objection or spot of lobbying at the eleventh hour, be aware: this is the eleventh hour.

The deal, which would see Ethos Capital buy Public Interest Registry from the Internet Society for over a billion dollars, is on the agenda for a meeting of the ICANN board of directors this Thursday.

ICANN and Ethos have agreed to a May 4 deadline for a decision, but is whispered that the board plans to give the deal the nod, or not, at the Thursday meeting.

Given how long it usually takes for ICANN to post the results of its board meetings, typically a few days, there’s a decent chance that PIR, Ethos and ISOC could be given formal approval before any opponents have time to react to the resolution.

I think it could go either way.

The one thing I have a fairly high degree of confidence in is that I do not expect a unanimous vote.

While I think ICANN’s institutional instincts are to approve, the breadth and depth of the outrage over the deal may be difficult for some directors to ignore.

If it were only domain investors objecting, approval would be a slam dunk. But here we also have non-profits, civil liberties groups and governments crying foul.

Perhaps most importantly, there’s the objection of the California attorney generalobjection of the California attorney general to consider.

He has power over ICANN because it’s a non-profit registered in his state, and he’s said “will take whatever action necessary to protect Californians and the nonprofit community”.

His last letter to ICANN is believed to have caused the board to remove the .org deal from the agenda at its last meeting and seek a deadline extension from PIR.

One plausible interpretation of that chain of events is that the board was ready to give Ethos the nod, but the AG’s letter gave it pause.

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Comments (4)

  1. Bub says:

    Not sure domain investors are opposed to Ethos. But a slew of major nonprofits, some senior and respected politicians, the UN, and the California Attorney General are. That’s a pretty serious list opposed to the deal. It will be interesting to see if ICANN ignores all them the same way it ignores domain registrants.

  2. Samit says:

    I’ll be extremely surprised if the sale doesn’t go through.

    Public comment and objections are being ignored for every other tld, why would they make an exception here?

    And you’re overestimating the value of objections of non-profits and civil liberties groups.

  3. Mark Thorpe says:

    The .ORG deal should already be rejected by now!

  4. Jack says:

    The .ORG deal is DEAD.

    Otherwise ICANN will be smashed by the California Attorney General and it’s the last (bad) decision ICANN ever makes !

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