Protest Planned for Friday the 24th at the ICANN office as US lawmakers urge ICANN to shun .Org sale

Several organizations including EFF, NTEN, Fight for the Future, Demand Progress, and other nonprofits have planned an in person protest rally outside ICANN’s offices in Los Angeles for the planned .Org sale to Ethos Capital.

The protesters will also be delivering a petition, signed by over 21,000 individuals and 600 organizations and NGOs, to ICANN staff.

The back story:

Last year, amidst hushed and public questions it was reported that Private equity firm Ethos Capital had acquired the Public Interest Registry (PIR), which runs the .org domain used for non-profit organisations’ websites from the Internet Society ISOC.

PIR was created in 2002 and The Internet Society acquired the .org registry. While announcing the acquisition, Internet Society CEO Andrew Sullivan said at the time 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.”

ICANN has recieved lots of pushback on its intent to Okay the sale and recently in a statement, ICANN said that it sent requests for information to PIR in order to determine whether the transfer should be allowed. “ICANN will thoroughly evaluate the responses, and then ICANN has 30 additional days to provide or withhold its consent to the request,” it said.

Reject the sale of .Org: US Lawmakers

Six U.S. lawmakers including include presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, Rony Wyden, Richard Blumenthal, Edward Markey, Anna Eshoo, and Mark Pocan have also writen to ICANN (PDF)  and asked the internet manager to reject the sale of .Org to Ethos Capital.

The letter provide lists several reasons why ICANN ought to reject the deal. CHief among them that they believe the new owners would raise prices and cut costs as a way to pay down debt and return funds to investors. The law makers reason that even if Ethos raises prices by 10% a year on average, it is still three times how much PIR has traditionally raised prices.

The letter concludes:

The proposed sale of .ORG is against the public interest and would violate ICANN’s commitment to “preserve and enhance .. . the operational stability, reliability, security … and
openness of the DNS and the Internet.

The Friday Protest

The protest organizers state that

The sale of the .ORG domain registry to Ethos Capital could impact millions of individuals and organizations who have a .ORG website, opening the door to potential censorship and price increases on domain registration and renewals. But we can stop the sale and make sure .ORGs are protected! ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, must approve the sale.

Join EFF to tell ICANN: .ORGS are not for sale! 

January 24, 2020 – 9:00am to 11:00am

Location: ICANN, 12025 E Waterfront Dr, Playa Vista, CA 90094

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