PIR Grants ICANN Extension to Respond, Ethos Capital Adds New Initiatives to the Proposed .ORG Sale
If you’re wondering... yes, the $1.1 billion .ORG deal has not been finalized yet and is still pending. Since our reporting of the acquisition earlier in the year, there hasn’t been much progress — just back and forth between ICANN, The Internet Society, Public Interest Registry and Ethos Capital.
On February 13, Maarten Botterman, chair of the ICANN board of directors, addressed a letter to ISOC stating that “ICANN needs ISOC’s continued leadership in making sure that there are complete, truthful, clear facts available for those looking at the broader impacts of ISOC’s proposed sale.”
In that correspondence to ISOC, which can be read here, ICANN is seeking answers to 18 questions to give them (ICANN) a better understanding of “fundamental issues relating to the proposed structure.” ICANN asked ISOC to respond to these questions by Monday, February 24.
Before the sale can be finalized, it has to be approved by ICANN. And as you may already know, what everyone has been waiting on is ICANN’s response to the proposed sale of .ORG to Ethos.
In early February, PIR granted ICANN an extension to respond to February 29. In response, ICANN again requested an extension to April 20 so that it can have the appropriate time to review PIR’s request for change of control — and the letter also addressed ICANN’s broader scope of responsibility in this matter. “In view of the complexity and importance of this matter, ICANN believes that such a limited further extension is reasonable and appropriate,” according to the letter from ICANN.
PIR recently granted ICANN an extension to March 20.
In light of the extension, on February 21, Ethos announced key initiatives that it believes strengthens and reinforces “the company’s commitments to the .ORG community as part of its acquisition of PIR.”
Here are the legally-binding contractual provisions related to the sale, according to a press release from Ethos:
Affordability of .ORG Domain Names: Fees charged to registrars for initial or renewal registration of a .ORG domain name will not increase by more than 10% per year on average for eight years from the start of the current Registry Agreement, under a precise formula that does not permit front-loading of those price increases. Through this commitment, .ORG will become one of the only TLDs to have a price restriction and it will remain one of the most affordable domains in the world.
.ORG Stewardship Council: The .ORG Stewardship Council will have authority to provide independent advice on and a binding right to veto modifications proposed by PIR to PIR’s policies regarding (1) censorship and freedom of expression and (2) use of .ORG registrant and user data. The council will have specific authority to veto any proposals or modifications that would limit the council’s oversight in these areas. No employee, director or member of PIR shall serve on the council.
Community Enablement Fund: PIR will establish a Community Enablement Fund to provide support for initiatives benefitting .ORG registrants and approved by the Council. The commission, charter and funding of the Community Enablement Fund will be established by PIR’s Board with input from the Council. The council will be responsible for providing recommendations and advice regarding the Community Enablement Fund. Appropriations from the Community Enablement Fund will be subject to approval of the PIR board. It is anticipated that PIR will contribute $10 million to the Community Enablement Fund over the remaining life of the current Registry Agreement.
Annual Public Report: PIR will produce and publish annually a report that assesses PIR’s compliance with the PIC commitments and the ways in which PIR pursued activities for the benefit of the registrants of .ORG domain names during the preceding year.
As Ethos rolled out these new initiatives to strengthen its claim to the .ORG registry, The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Americans for Financial Reform (AFR) Education Fund called on ICANN and Ethos to “make public secret details about financing the $1.1 billion sale of the .ORG domain registry,” according to the February 21 press release from EFF.
Additionally, EFF and AFR also urged the Federal Trade Commission to review the sale, which the organizations believe will have “profound effects on millions of charities, public interest organizations and nonprofits — and the consumers who rely on them — around the world.”