Jun 26, 2020
Internet Society Responds to SaveDotOrg Letter
On June 24, 2020 leaders of the SaveDotOrg coalition, including NTEN, EFF, and Access Now, sent a letter to Internet Society and Public Interest Registry in acknowledgement that the end of the proposed sale of PIR to private equity firm Ethos Capital was only part of the original coalition's request since November 2019. Still outstanding are critical protections in the .Org domain contract. The letter also noted three critical steps ISoc and PIR need to take for building trust including a transparent, independent review, shared findings, and a collaborative process for improving governance and accountability.
On June 26, 2020 Andrew Sullivan, on behalf of ISoc and PIR, sent a letter in response. The ISoc letter defers any responsibility or accountability related to protections or actions listed in the coalition's letter to a recently chartered "Governance Reform Working Group" and notes that any changes or recommendations will be considered only after the Working Group has conducted their chartered work. No timeline for the Working Group's work was included, nor was information about who is in the Working Group or how they were selected. Further, the letter from Sullivan states that PIR will continue operating as they have been without any changes.
May 1, 2020
ICANN Rejects Sale of .ORG
"After completing extensive due diligence, the ICANN Board finds that withholding consent of the transfer of PIR from the Internet Society (ISOC) to Ethos Capital is reasonable, and the right thing to do." The ICANN board's statement was posted on APril 30, 2020.
Apr 24, 2020
Germany Highlights Concerns with Proposed Sale
Heads of the Internet Governance and International Digital Dialogues Division and Cyber Foreign Policy and Cyber Security Coordination Division of Germany wrote to ICANN with their concerns about the proposed sale or .ORG to Ethos Capital. The letter (PDF) from April 24, 2020 specifically calls out lack of information about the deal and sufficient guarantees.
Apr 17, 2020
ISoc’s Chapter Advisory Council Issues Additional Advice to ISoc Board
Internet Society’s Chapter Advisory Council issued a second statement of advice to the ISoc Board (PDF), stating “We reiterate that the sale of PIR to Ethos Capital should not proceed until, unless proscribed by law, the following conditions are met, and the ISOC Board has taken into account the comments received after the information requested below is made public.” The advice was passed on April 17, 2020.
Apr 16, 2020
ICANN Deadline for .Org Decision Moved to May 4
In a letter dated April 16, 2020, ICANN and PIR agree to a further extension of the timeline for ICANN to respond to the proposal of PIR/.Org's sale to private equity firm Ethos Capital. The new deadline is May 4, 2020.
Apr 15, 2020
CA Attorney General Urges Sale Rejected
In a letter to the ICANN board and staff leadership on April 15, the US State of California's Office of the Attorney General wrote, "I urge ICANN to reject the transfer of control over the .ORG registry to Ethos Capital. The proposed transfer raises serious concerns that cannot be overlooked." The letter highlights concerns expressed about the proposed sale by the At-Large Advisory Committee and the broader community. It highlights a number of specific concerns with the proposed sale.
Apr 15, 2020
SaveDotOrg Nonprofits Urge ICANN to Reject Sale
In a letter to the the ICANN board and staff leadership on April 15, 2020, a coalition of organizations including Access Now, Domain Name Rights Coalition, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and NTEN, urge ICANN to stop the sale of .ORG to private equity firm Ethos Capital. The letter outlines concerns regarding procedural issues, financial stability risk, Ethos avoidance of accountability, and issues with Ethos' proposed PICs.
Apr 14, 2020
ICANN Founding Pres and Board Chair Write to AGs
Michael Roberts, ICANN Founding President, and Esther Dyson, ICANN Founding Board Chair, coauthored a letter April 16, 2020, to the State Attorneys General of both California and Pennsylvania. California is where ICANN is incorporated and Pennsylvania where Public Interest Registry is incorporated. The letter outlines ICANN's deviation from core principles and allowing the circumventing of ICANN's clearly defined open, competitive, multistakeholder process.
Apr 8, 2020
ICANN Opens 7-Day Comment Period
ICANN published PIR's recently updated Public Interest Commitments (PICs), which were received by ICANN on 7 April 2020. PIR proposes that these PICs be added to the .ORG Registry Agreement should ICANN approve the change of control request submitted by PIR. In the same post, ICANN opens a 7-day public comment period, breaking with precedent of a 30-day window for public comments.
Mar 18, 2020
US Legislators Call on ICANN to Block Sale
Five United States Senators, Richard Blumenthal, Ed Markey, Elizabeth Warren, and Ron Wyden, and Representative Anna Eshoo addressed the ICANN leadership including board and staff in a March 18, 2020 detailed letter and called for them to block the sale of .ORG to private equity firm Ethos. The nine-page letter (PDF) includes the positions that Ethos and PIR have not been transparent about who is behind the plan or their business plan, that Ethos' commitment to price increase limitations is weak, and that the Stewardship Council "would be toothless."
Mar 18, 2020
PIR Grants ICANN Extension
Public Interest Registry has announced they have agreed to the previously requested deadline extension of April 20, 2020. ICANN requested the extension twice before, though previous responses from PIR denied the full extension. The approval today comes just days before the previous extension deadline communicated by PIR of March 20.
Feb 26, 2020
EFF and NTEN Respond to Ethos Capital's Announcement
In a letter to Fadi Chehadé, Erik Brooks, and Jon Nevett, SaveDotOrg campaign partners Cindy Cohn, Executive Director of Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Amy Sample Ward, CEO of NTEN, respond to Ethos Capital's announcement of "accountability initiatives" and plans for the Stewardship council. The letter states, "While you have clearly recognized that the NGO community demands accountability from its top-level domain registry, this announcement does nothing to display that accountability. Rather than instill trust, it reveals once again that you lack understanding of the NGO community’s needs and are not equipped to manage .ORG."
Feb 23, 2020
ISoc's Chapter Advisory Council Issues Advice to ISoc Board
Internet Society's Chapter Advisory Council issued advice to the ISoc Board (PDF), stating "The sale of PIR to Ethos Capital should not proceed unless a number of conditions are met." The letter also notes, "There is a feeling amongst chapters that ISOC seems to have disregarded community participation, failed to properly account for the potential community impact, and misread the community mindset around the .ORG TLD." The advice was passed on February 23, 2020.
Feb 21, 2020
Nonprofits Call for Disclosure of Financing Details of .ORG Sale
On February 21, 2020, Ethos Capital announced new or updated initiatives related to the sale of PIR. Electronic Frontier Foundation, Americans for Financial Reform, and NTEN call for disclosure of the financial details behind the $1.1B sale, asking the FTC to scrutinize the deal.
Feb 14, 2020
Internet Society Switzerland joins the concerned voices for the .ORG Sale
The Swiss Chapter of the Internet Society has published a statement associating the Chapter with the positions of the France and Catalonia chapters. The statement calls for the sale to be stopped until all relevant information made public and there has been a public consultation.
Feb 13, 2020
ICANN Requests Extension and Reinforces Oversight
ICANN previously requested an extension of their response to the proposed sale of .ORG to April 20, given the CA Dept. of Justice's request for information and the amount of time necessary for thorough review and preparation. PIR responded in a letter dated Feb 3, that they would grant an extension only to Feb 29. Further, the letter from PIR explained ICANN's purview as limited to the "security, reliability, or stability of services of the .ORG registry". ICANN responded in a letter dated Feb 13, requesting again an extension to April 20, and outlining in detail a broader scope of responsibility for ICANN's review.
Feb 13, 2020
ICANN Issues Questions to Internet Society
Maarten Botterman, Chair of the Board at ICANN, issued 18 questions to Internet Society via a letter addressed to Gonzalo Camarillo, the Chair of the Board at Internet Society on February 13, 2020. The questions range in content including processes employed to engage the .ORG community with respect to the proposed sale, details of other bids received, and protections for .ORG registrations included in the proposed sale's details or contracts.
Feb 7, 2020
France Issues Warning and Request to ICANN
The French government sent a letter to ICANN stating that consumer interest and the respect for hte rule of law are pillars of public interest, and that both would be negatively impacted by the sale of .ORG. The letter requests ICANN provide them with a detailed opinion on the proposed transaction and that they give ICANN's Governmental Advisory Committee access to review and make recommendations to ICANN about the sale before ICANN's official response to PIR.
Feb 7, 2020
Internet Society France calls for .ORG sale to be reconsidered
The Internet Society France issued a letter that calls the ISOC Board of Trustees to reconsider the sale of .ORG and open a broad consultation of the stakeholders. The letter outlines the need for changes to the bylaws and governance structures of ISoc, stating, "The Internet Society France stands ready to engage in the governance of structures that will be put in place to ensure that the voice of the .ORG community and the Internet as a whole is heard."
Jan 31, 2020
State of CA Department of Justice Letter Issued to ICANN
Xavier Becerra, Attorney General for the State of California, has issued a letter to ICANN outlining 35 questions to be addressed or answered related to a number of topics ranging from ICANN's role in Top Level Domain pricing and management to all communications from Internet Society and PIR related to the proposed sale to Ethos. On Jan 30, ICANN acknowledged the request (originally dated Jan 23, 2020) and gave formal notice to PIR that in order to comply with the request they will be sharing information PIR has previously designated confidential as well as an extension on the timeline ICANN has for responding to the proposed sale, pushing that deadline to April 20, 2020.
Jan 30, 2020
Internet Society Catalan Chapter calls for reconsideration of .ORG sale
"The ISOC Catalan Chapter regrets the ISOC Board’s decision to sell PIR (and the .org domain) and sees with deep concern the consequences. We request the Board to listen to the community, and to reconsider seriously the deal." The statement on the Chapter's website also notes: "Listening to the community means reconsidering the whole deal, and to act as true stewards of the values represented by the ISOC community."
Jan 24, 2020
SaveDotOrg Protest at ICANN Draws Board Response
On Friday, January 24, NTEN and EFF hosted roughly 30 protesters outside of ICANN's office in Los Angeles, CA. The protesters had a banner and signs demanding the sale of PIR/.Org to Ethos Capital be stopped. For two hours, the peaceful group talked, chanted, and waited for a potential visit from staff or board to address the crowd and receive the 34,000+ combined signatures from the SaveDotOrg and Fight for the Future petitions. After the scheduled close of the protest, the ICANN full board came outside with brief remarks from Maarten Botterman, ICANN Board Chair, and response from Amy Sample Ward, NTEN CEO, including presentation of the signatures. Although ICANN staff had offered, on January 23, for protest leaders to join ICANN leaders for discussions after the protest, that offer was rescinded the morning of the protest noting that no ICANN leaders were able to meet.
Dec 24, 2019
U.S. Senators question sale of .Org domains to private equity firm
U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., with Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., questioned whether nonprofit groups, free speech, and internet users would be harmed selling control of .ORG domains to a private equity firm. Their joint letter outlines nine questions and requests answers by January 6, 2020.
Dec 7, 2019
Community Call Recap
Here's the transcript and full video of the Dec 5 public call, discussing news of the proposed sale of .ORG.