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Breaking: California Attorney General delays .org sale

Office that oversees California non-profits demands extensive documentation.

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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.

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.

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Author: Andrew Allemann

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