Domain .org is to be Sold to an Investment Company Non-governmental organizations protest

Tech, Internet: Non-governmental organizations protest: Their domain .org is to be sold to an investment company. They are not just afraid of a price increase.

Without them, not a single internet address works: shortcuts like .com, .info or .it. These endings in the address line, which are also called top-level domains, often give a rough orientation, which is behind the respective website. For example, if a URL ends with .com, it's probably a commercial website behind it. Behind one that ends in .de is usually a page from Germany. And at the end of .org, the website usually runs a non-profit organization or at least another non-profit project. However, it is not quite so strict: even a company like Google may present its philanthropy division on a .org page.

There is currently a lot of trouble around the .org domains because their registry, the Public Interest Registry (PIR), is to be sold to an investment company. So far, it belonged to the non-profit Internet Society (ISOC). But in mid-November, she surprisingly announced that she is selling the PIR to Ethos Capital. This means: The administration of the top-level domain .org will no longer be in the hands of a non-profit company, but in a commercial one.

Details of the deal were not disclosed - neither how much money was poured, nor what other agreements Ethos Capital and the ISOC have made. Legal details are still to be clarified, the takeover then is completed in the first quarter of 2020.

Counterweight of the commercial internet
The address space that PIR manages is large: More than ten million websites are registered under the top-level domain .org, making it one of the most popular in the world. It also has a particularly tightly knit community of net-interested and digitally active website operators. And that is at the latest since the announcement of the sale in turmoil.

Organizations are now calling for a halt to the sale of PIR - Digital Activists from the Electronic Frontier Foundation EFF, the Wikimedia Foundation, Creative Commons and the Internet Archive, as well as other NGOs from the European Climate Foundation to the US Youth Organizations YMCA and YWCA ,

".org needs to be managed by a governance team that puts the needs of NGOs above profits," says their open letter, signed by nearly 9,000 people. The main reason for this is the concern that under new leadership, the registry could attract prices for .org domains - and that the community loses its say in decisions about the address space. If the registrar for the top-level .org domain were to abuse its power, that would do "great harm to the global NGO sector, whether that happens intentionally or unintentionally," the letter says.

The Internet Society, which has so far been responsible for the .org top-level domain, is one of the most reputable companies in the history of the Internet. Founded in 1992 as a non-profit organization, it takes care of a lot of background work, operations and business Ensure the Internet continues to develop - for example, when it comes to the architecture of the networks. As the Internet became more and more commercial, many in the Internet Society saw a counterbalance in which the engineering culture that made the Web great was promoted and maintained.

In 2002, she took over the management of the top-level domain .org from the commercial administrator Verisign, who also manages top-level domains such as .com and .net. Observers saw in this change a return to the roots of the top-level domain .org, which was originally designed for non-commercial providers, in practice at the time of sale but were often used by profit-oriented website owners. Indeed, under the supervision of ISOC or its non-profit registry PIR, .org has become a synonym for non-commercial sites and projects on the Internet. This worked, although there is no strict review of the website operators at the registration and the registration of a. Org address is therefore also open to other website operators.
With the sale of PIR to Ethos Capital, the responsibility for the top-level domain .org is now transferred to a financial investor, who was founded specifically for this deal. The Internet activists, who are now reluctant to take over, bring that up because so, because of the .org administrator PIR just in June 2019 their management contract with the central Verga