Constituency addresses pricing and censorship issues.
The Non-Commercial Stakeholders Group (NCSG) has sent a letter to ICANN, asking it to make three changes to the .org registry contract if it is to be sold to Ethos Capital.
The group points out that the contract to be the steward of .org was awarded to Internet Society (ISOC) based, in part, on ISOC’s reputation and goals. It was a competitive process.
Now, ISOC wants to sell it to a strictly for-profit private equity group.
(I find it perplexing that ICANN has shoehorned provisions of new top level domain contracts into legacy extensions without considering the history of these legacy extensions and how they were awarded to their current operators.)
NCSG wants to see three changes to the contract before it is transferred to Ethos:
- A revised notification procedure in which wholesale price increases of any amount give ORG registrants 6 months to renew their domains for periods of up to 20 years at the pre-existing annual rate. Implementation of this revised notification procedure must be obligatory to both PIR as well as any registrar through which .org domain names are registered and/or renewed.
- A strong commitment that the administration of the ORG domain will remain content-neutral; that is, the registry will not suspend or take away domains based on their publication of political, cultural, social, ethnic, religious, and personal content, even untrue, offensive, indecent, or unethical material, like that protected under the U.S. First Amendment.
- An elimination of the URS procedure within the ORG domain, as the rights protection mechanisms specific to the URS were appropriate only for new domains.
While the price cap change requested in item #1 is helpful, it ignores two issues.
First, most .org registrants are unlikely to know the price is increasing until it comes time to renew. Therefore, they can’t lock in the original price for 20 years.
ISOC CEO Andrew Sullivan has noted that only a minority of .org users are speaking out against selling .org. That’s not because they don’t care, but because they don’t know about it. Likewise, they won’t know about price increases until it’s too late.
Second, it just kicks the can down the road another ten years.