Early this month Internet Society (ISOC) announced that Private equity firm Ethos Capital had acquired the Public Interest Registry (PIR), which runs the .org domain used for non-profit organisations’ websites that it currently runs.
The sale has howeevr elicited major opposition from organizations and individuals such as the Internet Commerce Association (ICA), Electronic Frontier Foundation, Namecheap all strongly urged ICANN to withhold its approval of the assignment to the unknown private equity company.
The latest and boldest move however is from Internet Society (ISOC)’s own ranks. The Netherlands chapter of ISOC has not only criticized the sale but also called on others to join it in denouncing sale. in a statement objecting to the sale.
ISOC Netherlands states (in part):
We believe that the 2019 decision of ISOC Global to sell PIR to private equity firm Ethos Capital is not in line with ICANN’s criteria from 2002 and the subsequent promise from ISOC Global. Despite ISOC Global’s assurances to the contrary, we share the misgivings of the international community about giving a single privately owned entity the power to raise tariffs, implement rights protection mechanisms possibly leading to censorship, and suspend domains at the request of local governments. We also fear that ISOC Global’s reputation has been severely harmed by even contemplating this transaction.
We therefore call on ISOC Global’s leadership to reverse this decision immediately, and do its utmost to restore faith in ISOC as the one global organisation that through its many professionals and dedicated volunteers sincerely strives for an internet for everyone.
PIR was created in 2002 and The Internet Society acquired the .org registry. While announcing the acquisition, Internet Society CEO Andrew Sullivan said that since the creation of PIR, the company has grown .org into the “largest purpose-driven domain” and claimed the organisation’s purchase by Ethos will provide the group with resources so it can “work to make the internet more open, accessible, and secure.”
Many questions linger, but what is interesting is to see if other Internet Society (ISOC) chapters will also support the call to halt the sale.