The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the non-profit organization that oversees the Internet’s domain name system, has rejected a controversial proposal to sell the .org domain to a private equity group for more than $1 billion. It’s a serious—quite possibly fatal—blow to a proposal that had few supporters besides the organizations that proposed it.
Currently, the .org domain registry is run by the Public Interest Registry, a non-profit subsidiary of another non-profit called the Internet Society. PIR was created in 2002 to run the .org domain and has been doing so ever since. But last fall, the Internet Society stunned the non-profit world by announcing it would sell the PIR—and, effectively, ownership of the .org domain—to a new and secretive private equity firm called Ethos Capital for more than $1 billion.
The announcement created a swift and powerful backlash. In its resolution formally rejecting the transaction, ICANN says it received its first letter opposing the deal just two days after it was announced. The group would eventually receive letters from at least 30 groups opposing the deal, as well as numerous negative comments during public hearings. Meanwhile, ICANN says, the deal has received “virtually no counterbalancing support except from the parties involved in the transaction and their advisors.”
Also, the California Attorney General strongly implied that there might be a criminal investigation to follow if they approved this.