The Internet Association’s transfer of the .org top-level domain name business to the private sector has caused a stir in the industry. Many, including Berners-Lee, the father of the internet, have criticised the decision. As a 27-year-old nonprofit, the Internet Association says it is committed to promoting better online privacy and security. For many years, it has been funded by the Public Interest Registry (PIR). In November, however, PIR sold its .org business to Ethos Capital for $1.13 billion.
The Internet Society disclosed the price of the deal in a statement, hoping to use the proceeds to fund the endowment, while Ethos Capital promised not to raise the registration price of .org.
Even so, the deal, which is due to close in the first quarter of 2020, raises concerns about the public interest of private equity firms.
So tens of thousands of people, led by Berners-Lee, have signed petitions organized by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) to block the deal.
There is growing scepticism about the business motives of technology companies, given the tech giant’s talk of strengthening privacy protections and the wide-ranging criticism of political influence and military projects.
Although spokesman James Wood said in a statement Tuesday that “the community is not clear enough about the meaning of the transaction and that there will be no change in the operating model of .org,” it will not be easy to buy.
Ethos Capital says it can provide more reliable and practical help to .org and will invest in ways that Internet associations can’t. At the same time, the $1.13 billion will be used by the association to donate and provide a stable source of funding for its long-term mission.