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ICANN dissenter explains why she wanted .org sale approved

Kevin Murphy, May 22, 2020, 10:50:04 (UTC), Domain Registries

ICANN has finally published the dissenting statement made by one of its directors following the vote to deny Ethos Capital the right to acquire Public Interest Registry from the Internet Society.

Avri Doria was one of only two directors to vote against the majority on the April 30 resolution, and the only one to file a written statement for the record, which ICANN has now published (pdf). It reads:

Briefly, I believe that the contractual conditions have been met by PIR and Ethos and that they have gone beyond these required contractual conditions to offer significant public interest commitments currently missing from the current contract.

On balance after intense study of the proposal I have come to conclusion that the Public Interest of registrants and users is better served by the PICs offered by PIR, though they could
be stronger, than by forcing PIR to remain within ISOC without any guarantees on public interest related to data usage and freedom of expression.

In exchange for ICANN approval of the deal, Ethos had promised to cap its price increases at 10% for eight years and to create a largely independent stewardship council to monitor issues related to privacy and free speech in .org.

With ICANN voting to deny the acquisition, PIR is not required to live up to those commitments, but opponents of the deal feel that its not-for-profit status under ISOC control provide stronger protections against bad behavior.

ICANN said it rejected the deal on “public interest” grounds for a variety of reasons including the lack of transparency into Ethos’ ultimate ownership, distrust that Ethos would be able to service its debt, doubt over its management in the long term, and the sheer volume of dissent from the community.

Also playing a strong role was an objection from the California attorney general, who pulled rank and informed ICANN that it should reject the deal, reminding the organization that it was subject to his oversight. This has been described as a dangerous precedent.

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Comments (1)

  1. gpmgroup says:

    The problem is the very flawed agreement between ICANN and its contracted new gTLD registries being foisted on legacy gTLDs (.info, .org, .biz) without the consent of the multistakeholder model or registrants. Consumer price increases are but one of the concerns.

    How did this happen?
    From the staff’s report of public comments:

    “Next Steps – ICANN org will consider the public comments received and, in consultation with the ICANN Board of Directors, make a decision regarding the proposed registry agreement.”

    Where are the board decisions?
    Where are the board members’ rationales?

    How could a responsible board member allow changes to go through which have brought ICANN into so much disrepute that it became necessary for the Californian attorney general to step in on behalf of the public good?

    And here it seems we have a board member who believes that the contract ICANN Staff / ICANN Board negotiated was so bad that it actually puts organization and individual registrants in a worse position than the one opposed by the Californian AG!

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