ICANN took a significant step on April 30 in ensuring the security of non-profit organizations. It rejected the proposal of change of control and entity conversion submitted by the Public Interest Registry (PIR).
On November 13, 2019, PIR, a not-for-profit that manages the .org top-level domain, announced that the Internet Society (ISOC) is handing over the control of the .orgTLD to Ethos Capital. The private equity investment firm Ethos Capital planned to acquire the registry for $1.35 billion.
But ICANN decided to withhold consent for the change of control as it would create “unacceptable uncertainty over the future.”
In a blogpost, ICANN accuses Ethos of having no meaningful plan to protect or serve the .org community.
How Would the Change of Control Affect not-for-profit Organization?
Ever since the news of ISOC handing over the control of .orgTLD to a private firm broke down, there has been plenty of criticism. Even Sir Tim Berner-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, stated his opposition on the matter.
I'm very concerned about the sale of .org to a private company. If the Public Interest Registry ends up not being required to act in the public interest, it would be a travesty. We need an urgent explanation. #SaveDotOrg
— Tim Berners-Lee (@timberners_lee) November 27, 2019
However, if ICANN were to approve the proposal, PIR, a not-for-profit corporation, would convert into a for-profit limited liability company. And it would force PIR to serve the interest of the domain-holding corporate as opposed to a wider public community.
Thus, ICANN believes that the decision serves best for public interest and protects the not-for-profit organizations globally.