Ethos Capital, the company that controversially buys the .org top domain, is trying to appease critics with a number of new rules. The legally binding agreements would prohibit substantial increase in rates for non-profit domain holders, and they would establish an independent “stewardship council” that could refuse attempts at censorship or inappropriate data use. The rules would enter into force if Ethos successfully acquires Public Interest Registry (PIR), a non-profit organization that manages .org.
ICANN, which supervises the top domains of the internet, is currently investigating the acquisition. President and CEO Göran Marby previously expressed his discomfort with the deal and PIR announced today that it would extend the review period to March 20.
ICANN has not yet taken a position on the latest proposal. “We are in the process [of] analyzing the information that we have received and therefore have no comments except that we welcome Ethos’ efforts to connect with the Internet Society community and .org customers, and look forward to the outcome of those discussions, “Marby said in a statement The edge. The California Attorney General asked information from ICANN last month regarding the sale and therefore have a group of legislators, including presidential candidate senator Elizabeth Warren.
PIR said it would “continue to work together” to address outstanding issues with ICANN. In addition to the details above, Ethos and PIR have committed themselves to establishing a “Community Enablement Fund” to support .org initiatives, and PIR promised to publish an annual transparency report. The price restrictions meanwhile would prohibit Ethos from increasing domain registration and renewal costs by an average of more than 10 percent per year for the next eight years.
PIR and Ethos announced their deal last year, and the Internet Society (ISOC) – which established PIR – says that the sale of billion dollars will provide much needed financing. But critics have expressed concern about a private equity firm that manages a valuable resource for non-profit groups.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation and other non-profit organizations has asked ISOC to stop the sale. A recently established group called the ‘Cooperative Corporation of .ORG Registrants’, including ICANN founder chairman Esther Dyson and Wikimedia Foundation CEO Katherine Maher, has instead asked for control over .org. Even the president of ISOC, Andrew Sullivan, said he was “uncomfortable” with a lack of transparency.
The Ethos and PIR press release quotes Sullivan as praising the new agreements. “Ethos shows that it has listened to the questions that some have asked. Ethos has responded by incorporating its pricing, censorship and data use obligations into a legally binding contract and giving ICANN and the community the opportunity to keep Ethos fulfilling its obligations, ”says the statement.