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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”