Dust hasn’t settled on .ORG: A new round

The situation around the .ORG domain continues to be in the spotlight of the global domain community. According to earlier reports, Ethos Capital Investors, a private equity company, last week announced the acquisition of Public Interest Registry (PIR), which manages the .ORG domain zone. At the same time, in the spring, ICANN changed the terms of the contract with PIR, in particular, removing PIR’s 10%-a-year price-raising caps. Observers believe that the two events suggest an inevitable rise in registration prices, which will be a serious blow to many registrants, including activists, philanthropists and public organizations – the non-profits that .ORG had been originally intended for.

Earlier, NameCheap and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) advocacy organization had filed Requests for Reconsideration with ICANN to amend the terms of the .ORG domain zone management contract. They were reviewed in early November and were rejected as expected. However, NameCheap and the EFF remained entitled to demand a re-consideration of the issue within 15 days – in case new information was found to be relevant to the situation under consideration. This right is usually little more than a formality prescribed by ICANN rules, and is almost never actually used. But the current situation fully meets its conditions: the sale of the .ORG domain registry entailing a change in PIR’s non-profit status to a commercial company happened within 15 days of ICANN declining the RfRs.

NameCheap and EFF snatched at the opportunity. According to Domain Incite, the ICANN Board of Directors will meet on November 21. It is very difficult to predict the outcome of this review; we will just have to wait for official information from ICANN. At the same time, it emerged that had begun collecting signatures for a petition demanding a reversal of the PIR acquisition by Ethos Capital Investors and calling for an open discussion between all interested parties.

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