ICANN Postpones .org Decision After California AG Says Sale Shouldn’t Happen

ICANN postpones .org decision after California AG says sale shouldn’t happen

Deadline pushed back two weeks to May 4.

Logo for .org domain, featuring a blue circle with white letters spelling ORG

ICANN’s due date to decide if it should allow Public Interest Registry (PIR), the company that runs the .org domain, to be sold to a private equity company has been delayed again.

ICANN and PIR agreed to push the deadline to May 4. The most recent deadline was April 20.

The deadline was extended a day after California Attorney General Xavier Becerra notified ICANN (pdf) and its board that it should reject the takeover. ICANN is domiciled in California.

Becerra raised concerns in January, which started a series of delays in making a decision.

In a letter dated April 15, Becerra told ICANN that it should reject the transaction and wrote that the “proposed transfer raises serious concerns that cannot be overlooked.” He warned that his office “will take whatever action necessary to protect Californians and the nonprofit community.”

This puts ICANN in a tough position: If it allows the transaction, the state entity that regulates it might sue. If it denies the transaction, private equity buyer Ethos might sue.

This is ICANN’s own undoing. It assigned the .org contract to Public Interest Registry as a non-profit overseer of the namespace. Over time, it has changed the contract to make it more like an ownership structure. In an effort to streamline contracts, it changed many of the terms to reflect those of new top level domains that were “bought and paid for” by registry operators in the 2012 round. It removed price controls last year, shortly before Ethos Capital said it was buying the non-profit and turning it into a for-profit.

 

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Author: Andrew Allemann

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