ASAE this week asked the federal government to intercede and stop the pending sale of the .ORG domain registry to the private equity firm Ethos Capital LLC.
In late November, Public Interest Registry said it reached an agreement to be acquired by Ethos for an undisclosed price. Public Interest Registry has managed the .org domain registry since 2002. There are roughly 10 million .org domains in operation, including most web addresses used by associations.
In a Dec. 18 letter to the Departments of Justice and Commerce and the Federal Trade Commission, ASAE voiced its concern that Ethos’ interest in acquiring Public Interest Registry is to increase .ORG registration and renewal fees. Doing so would subject millions of associations and nonprofit organizations to what would most likely be an unstable pricing environment, forcing them to divert valuable resources from their exempt purpose in order to protect their online presence.
The concern that Ethos will raise the fees to register and renew domain names has heightened since the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a global entity that manages the Internet’s address system, took steps this past June to remove the longstanding price cap of 10% for renewal of .org domain names.
In response to public outcry from the .ORG community, ICANN just this month delayed the sale of PIR to afford PIR time to exhibit some transparency and provide .ORG stakeholders answers to questions about the recently announced acquisition.
“This delay is much needed; however, it does not reassure the .ORG community that the parties involved in this transaction have prioritized the interests of .ORG over real and envisioned profits,” ASAE said in its letter.