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ICANN rejects sale of .ORG registry to private equity

May 07, 2020

In early March, we shared that organizations who use a web address ending in .ORG should be aware that a management change could result in registration fees for domain names doubling. Late last week, the news broke that ICANN rejected the sale of the .ORG registry to private equity firm, Ethos Capital.

The ICANN Board faced a unique and challenging scenario that would impact more than 10.5 million domain names, one of the largest registries. After deliberation, the board decided that the public interest is better served in withholding consent as a result of various factors that create unacceptable uncertainty over the future of the third largest generic top-level domain registry. A number of factors were considered such as the request to contract with a completely different form of entity rather than maintain its 20-year contract with the mission-based, not-for-profit; the protection and benefits of .ORG registrants as a result of the conversion; and, the uncertainty of an untested Stewardship Council that might not be properly independent.

Nearly 900 organizations and 64,000 individuals joined in the #SaveDotOrg campaign to stop the sale of the .ORG registry. The collective recognition of the importance of nonprofit websites (as most of the world’s scientific and research institutions, health and safety resources, and educational services are on .ORG websites) proved instrumental in ICANN’s rejection of the sale.