Office that oversees California non-profits demands extensive documentation.
The California Attorney general has likely delayed approval of the .org sale to Ethos Capital by two months, if not more, after demanding extensive documentation from ICANN. The office supervises charitable organizations in California, where ICANN is based. [Update: PIR is pushing back on the delay.]
In a letter to ICANN (pdf), the attorney general has demanded responses to 35 questions and information requests. About half of the questions relate to ICANN’s decision to remove price caps on .org domain names. If it gets the answers it demands, it will get much more information than ICANN has previously disclosed about the process and thinking behind removing price caps on .org domain names last year.
It seems that the attorney general may wish to speak to individual members of ICANN’s board about the price removals. It has asked for their names and contact information.
The contract between ICANN and Public Interest Registry states that ICANN is not permitted to disclose Public Interest Registry’s confidential information unless there is a valid court order or ICANN’s counsel believes the disclosure is required by applicable law. ICANN believes that applies in this case and intends to provide the unredacted information to the Attorney General.
The current deadline for ICANN to approve or deny the sale is February 20. It is asking Public Interest Registry to extend this to April 20 as a result of the attorney general office’s request.
This is perhaps the biggest wrinkle so far in Internet Society’s plans to sell the registry for $1.135 billion to a private equity company. While many have weighed in, the California Attorney General may argue it has direct regulatory control over ICANN. It could also give ICANN a “reasonable” reason to deny the sale, depending on the outcome.
Legal Question – If the unredacted information is given to California AG , does that mean it is in the public record and will be available ? FOIA ?
As i already said on January 19, the deal to sell .ORG is dead.
The California Attorney general has some more work to do (with the DoJ /DoC).
Time to kill the new agreement with Verisign now and put the legacy .COM and .NET and .ORG contracts for bid.
It is ICANN’s duty to promote competition.
ICANN doesn’t want to be a price regulator anymore so let the market decide…
Also, ICANN asking Verisign a $20 million payment to allow them increasing price should be prosecuted as corruption.
I hope you’re right
Mark Thorpe says
ICANN has to answer the bell now!
The tangled WEB they weaved.
My read is the deal to Ethos is in question, but if they stop it that does not mean price caps will be returned.
Ethos argument, right or wrong, is that PIR is starved of funds it needs for new products and services. So PIR can make the same argument for raising reg fees without Ethos.
I’m not sure how stopping the Ethos deal at this point is going to make a huge change in future .ORG pricing possibilities. Recall the report that “PIR was silent” on the issue of price cap removal by ICANN, they did not argue for continued protection of registrants.
Looking at it in the longer terms, this government review will also tend to help clarify how the deal should have been done to get government approval and thus open the door for a second attempt.
Registrants probably need to remain in a state of reg pricing concern regardless the outcome of the Ethos deal.
Richard K. says
Why would they need to say anything about price caps if ICANN’s former CEO could have possibly been orchestrating much of this going back years?
From what I see coming from the AG’s questions, they are looking deeper into what actually led to the removal of price caps on top of the sale to Ethos.
Given ICANN’s former CEO’s involvement in this, they definitely need to look back and see if there was anything nefarious going on while he was in charge.
Witness Verisign trying to have price caps removed.
Price caps are not the issue here and ICANN’s arguement of “harmonizing” contracts will likely hold, espically since Verisign is going to want that, push for it, and lobby for it.
Killing Ethos does not mean price caps will be returned. Further, ICANN *IS* a government agency, under the guise of “not for profit” with half a billion in cash in the bank.
This is why I suggest people be careful of being distracted by the bread and circus, watch the price cap issue and for another buyer to appear after the state of California provides them the “correct” purchase plan.
That is easy , if PIR is owned by a Private Equity company their goal is to maximize profits and pay back investors maximum return . so more likely have steeper and more frequent price increases.
If owned by ISOC which is swimming in cash from PIR less likely to raise prices as often as evidenced from past few years
The past few years had price caps.
Hopefully the story gains steam of modern day corruption, and how insiders setup this deal probably before they left their trusted post, and investors run away, obviously Ethos is playing with peoples borrowed money here, dirty hands.
The letter from the Attorney General isn’t messing around. The authorities have been looking for a way in and this is it. It will open Pandora’s box. Considerable effort is required to provide the information requested, which in turn will raise more questions and possibly a similar letter to ISOC and PIR. Certain people are going to receive lengthy jail sentences when this shakes out.
>Certain people are going to receive
>lengthy jail sentences when this
Like generals and elected officials that do the same thing after leaving office?
Like getting a board position and $50,000 a month salary after paying off a billion dollar debt to Russia?
Or running a bunch of ranchers off their grazing land to sell federal lands to China for a solar farm?
Not happening ….
Apples and oranges. If there’s a hint that this was manipulated from within ICANN the players will be serving time. They might have redacted their names to hide from the public, but they can’t hide from the AG.
This is certainly a turn of events, I would imagine if there is a link found between the price cap removal and the PIR sale that could result in charges being laid.
Mark Thorpe says
Exactly! There is nowhere to hide now.
Good for California. Could not have happened to a nicer crew. Wouldn’t you love to get this crew under deposition? Establish some price caps, and put the kabash to the little “Premium” crapola….and watch them head for the exits. One other point, this thing has the potential….to get very interesting. There could very well be some additional legal questions that come into the picture.
Bravo! I love you again California!!!
How dare they stand in the way of power and profit?! :O
It’s a very special day, a coat of paint is needed to completely clean ICANN,
Oh the irony. Register domains to resell for higher price. People bite. Registries take notice and push for price cap removals. They get it and increase prices. Now you have to pay more than you’re used to paying. Sound familiar? Personally, I can’t stand either side.
What a suprise
Nanni Cali over reaching for a “particular set of stake holders”.
That alone violates longstanding administrative policy originally approved by feds.
ICANN- obligated to global public benifit not a particular set of stakeholders.
keep in mind folks
– non profits, 30% stake holder
minority mostly USA based.
Several other countries use ngo
as non profit identities and
require proof of status to operate
– Original intent of .org
Advocating for minority rule ?
Advocating for re-characterization
of legacy tld?
should country codes be subject to re-characterization according to use?
IMO legacy tld characterizations should remain intact.
preserve iconic legacy tld’s
preserve global majority benifit.
preserve stewardship vs ownership.
To be fair, the people requesting AG involvement should be subject to similar questioning.
As I understand the value of price caps, to grow the market.
The market has grown to a size that market force will control.
Entirely appropriate to remove ALL price caps for all tld’s equally.
In this case price caps, initial reg reductions have not proven continued growth to justify price control.
A state should not have the right to investigate/make decisions on issues of global or national public interest.
The opposite could be argued,
pricefixing for a particular set of stake holders and not ALL tld users.
California’s AG claim of authority of a global public interest entity for a particular set of stake holders is interesting.
Wouldn’t be suprised if ICANN incorporates outside of USA.