Dot-org up for sale? Really?

dot org Screen Shot 2020-01-24 at 8.48.22 AM

When there is important national news, it makes sense to check out various newspapers’ editorials. Yesterday, while the impeachment trial in the Senate was in full steam, the editorial in The Washington Post was titled: “The end of dot-org as we know it feels a lot like giving up.”

When the internet and the World Wide Web became something we rely on each day, we learned that there were dot-com’s, dot-gov’s, dot-edu’s, and, of course, dot-org’s (and more).

It seemed that the dot-org was created to help nonprofit organizations save money, although if you actually look at the websites you visit – like galleries, museums,artist co-ops, and others – dot-org also has been part of the name of commercial operations as well.

Who knew, except for those who are deeply involved in tech issues, that dot-org is up for sale, for more than $1 billion, to a private-equity firm called Ethos Capital.

Late last year, there was a raft of stories on this potentially problematic situation for non-profit groups, but now things have ratcheted up.

The story on CBS News this morning online sported this headline: “Nonprofits worry sale of dot-org universe will hike costs,” perhaps abandoning the usual $10 fee. (This morning, there was going to be a protest this morning at the Los Angeles headquarters of the Public Interest Registry, which owns domain names that might be sold.)

The story continues:

“Since 2003, dot-org has been managed by the Public Interest Registry at the Internet Society, a nonprofit founded by many of the internet’s early engineers and scientists. In that role, the registry collects annual fees of about $10 from each of the more than 10 million dot-org names registered worldwide.

“The Internet Society uses some of that money to finance its advocacy and administrative programs, which include creating technical standards for the internet.

“It said proceeds from the sale will fund an endowment to provide more diversified and sustainable resources long term. The group described Ethos Capital as ‘a mission-driven firm’ committed to continuing the registry’s operations.

“The investment firm’s executives include a former senior vice president at the regulatory body for domain names — the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN.”

Uh, for those of us, who wouldn’t know an Internet Society or Public Interest Registry from an ice cream cone, this seems potentially problematic in terms of upping costs for dot-org websites for nonprofits. (And we do remember in the internet’s infancy, this new form of communication was going to be free, but…) It will be interesting to see how this shakes out.

The links below help flesh out the story:


2 Replies to “Dot-org up for sale? Really?”

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