Domain registrants up in arms about ICANN’s proposal to remove price caps on .org domain names

Protests have greeted plans to remove a cap on the price of web domains that end in .org, .biz and .info.

This change could hit a lot of charities, many of which use the .org domain for their websites. The organisation overseeing web domains wants to let the companies behind the suffixes set their own prices. One domain seller NameCheap criticised the idea, saying prices to renew or buy these domains could go “sky high” as a result.

Price increases have been limited to no more than 10% annually under .ORG’s current contract with ICANN (already a far higher increase than the rate of inflation), but if this proposal is enacted, the Public Interest Registry could increase prices to any number they want for .ORG registrations and renewals. If that happens you can bet demands for unlimited .com and .net increases won’t be far behind.

“Switching domains is hard, so you will have little option but to pay the higher prices,” wrote Jackie Dana, Namecheap’s blog editor.

The Internet Commerce Association has already filed a detailed objection to the .ORG contract proposal with ICANN (the oversight body that governs the domain name system).

ICANN launched a consultation exercise to debate the idea in March, and asked anyone involved with domains to comment via a discussion forum on its own website. The consultation exercise ends today 29 April and ICANN will report on the response on 13 May.

Of the three domains under consideration, .org is by far the biggest. It is believed to have about 10 million customers, many of which are non-profit groups or charities.

ICANN has said in a statement to the BBC that it was not a price regulator, and that the protections were put in place by the US Department of Justice at a time when there were fewer options for organisations wanting to register a domain name. Those protections are no longer in effect, it said.

“Existing domain registrants are also afforded some protection in the event of price increases,” added Cyrus Namazi, Icann’s head of global domains division.

“They must be given a minimum six-month notice of any price increase and can renew their registrations for as many as 10 years prior to the change taking effect, thus enabling a registrant to lock in current prices for up to 10 years in advance of a pricing change”

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