Victory! ICANN Rejects .ORG Sale to Private Equity Firm Ethos Capital

Electronic Frontier Foundation

In a stunning victory for nonprofits and NGOs around the world working in the public interest, ICANN today roundly rejected Ethos Capital’s plan to transform the .ORG domain registry into a heavily indebted for-profit entity. This is an important victory that recognizes the registry’s long legacy as a mission-based, non-for-profit entity protecting the interests of thousands of organizations and the people they serve.

We’re glad ICANN listened to the many voices in the nonprofit world urging it not to support the sale of Public Interest Registry, which runs .ORG, to private equity firm Ethos Capital. The proposed buyout was an attempt by domain name industry insiders to profit off of thousands of nonprofits and NGOs around the world. Saying the sale would fundamentally change PIR into an entity bound to serve the interests of its corporate stakeholders with no meaningful plan to protect or serve the .ORG community, ICANN made clear that it saw the proposal for what it was, regardless of Ethos’ claims that nonprofits would continue to have a say in their future. ICANN entrusted to PIR the responsibility to serve the public interest in its operation of the .ORG registry, they wrote, and now ICANN is being asked to transfer that trust to a new entity without a public interest mandate.

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