back to article ICANN't approve the sale of .org to private equity – because California's Attorney General has... concerns

The California State Attorney General's Office (CA-OAG) sent a letter last week to DNS overlord ICANN asking for confidential information about the planned sale of the .org registry and a delay of the transaction. ICANN, which disclosed the letter on Thursday, responded by notifying the Public Internet Registry (PIR), which …

  1. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Mike Shepherd

      Re: Huh


    2. Gordon 10

      Re: Huh

      Since when has ICANN stopped anything dodgy?

      1. veti Silver badge

        Re: Huh

        Since any time they weren't sufficiently cut in, of course.

  2. Robert Grant


    In unrelated news, "can you shred email?" is the most popular search term for ICANN employees so far this year.

  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge


    It is reassuring to see that there still is something that can bring ICANN down a notch.

    Now to hope that the Attorney General is going to provide the proverbial kick into this ant's nest of corruption and put a stop to this nonsense.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good

      Thank the goddess for California. They are one of the few proactively sane states in the US.

      1. tony trolle

        Re: Good

        sane ?

        I live there, not the word I would of picked

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Re: Good

          It is interesting to speculate on what US city centres would be like in terms of NOx, and what US carbon dioxide emissions would be like, without California.

          Isn't it awful when some nanny state tires to stop people harming themselves and other people?

          1. paulll

            Re: Good

            It's awful when people conflate two completely distinct ideas hoping that people will tacitly agree with the questionable one rather than be seen to argue with the obvious one.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Good

              Could you clarify what you are saying? Perhaps I am stupid today, but I can't cope with so much ellipsis in one post.

          2. Charles 9

            Re: Good

            "Isn't it awful when some nanny state tires to stop people harming themselves and other people?"

            Is it any more awful when some Laissez-faire state lets people do as they please and stupid people end up taking innocent people with them, including perhaps someone close to you?

            And incidentally, it's kinda hard keeping your air clean when you live in a thermal inversion zone like Los Angeles County. Why do you think "California Emissions" were a thing decades back?

        2. sabroni Silver badge

          Re: not the word I would of picked

          I of just about had it up to here with this! Can't we of a decent conversation without someone mangling the English language? It's the height have bad manners...

          1. Charles 9

            Re: not the word I would of picked

            I sincerely hope the above was not intentional, or that would the ultimate irony. Perhaps one should be up to there with oneself at this rate.

        3. Tomato Krill

          Re: Good

          Of is not the word I would have picked...

        4. STOP_FORTH Silver badge

          Re: Good

          Of is not the word I would of picked!

    2. OldSoCalCoder

      Re: Good

      To ICANN's credit, they did post the letter from CA DOJ, AG on their website. I see that ICANN is a nonprofit registered in Calif and that's why Calif has jurisdiction on this. Among the 35 questions the AG has,

      "23. Did ICANN approve a removal of the price cap for registration fees for .org domains?

      24. If ICANN approved the removal...provide a detailed explanation how this occurred...'

      25. (provide) All correspondence between ICANN, ISOC, PIR, and/or Ethos Capital regarding the removal of the price cap..."

      and lastly

      "35. Your conflict of interest policy."

      Now the question is what can the CA AG do about it?

      (An annoying side note - I couldn't find a direct link anywhere on California's website re this letter.)

    3. Sgt_Oddball

      Re: Good

      California Uber alles....

      At least someone is making a long needed stand against ICANN (and at this point I'm pretty sure president brown would better than president orange...).

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge

        Re: Good

        "president brown "

        you just reminded me of the streets of San Francisco (again)... and you'd trust CALI-FORNICATE-YOU politicians for ANYTHING???

        Just because ICANN is incorporated in Cali-Fornicate-You does NOT mean that the Cali-Fornicate-You AG can do the job of the FTC or the SEC or anything that would NORMALLY oversee purchases of a portion of a business (whether non-profit or not). And 'harassment' lawsuits from an AG are _NEVER_ a good thing. If "the AG *FEELS*" is criteria to DELAY or even STIFLE a BUSINESS TRANSACTION, maybe it's time for ALL businesses to leave the state...

        ICANN is already subject to review and oversight, isn't it? Why must the Cali-fornicate-you AG get involved? Because, of the politicians' "uber alles" goal, that's why!

        1. Mike Moyle

          Re: Good

          Thank you, Bob, for another well-reasoned, not-in-the-least-ad-hominem (ad-statem?) comment.

          Let's hear it for Bob, everybody; wasn't he delightful?


          1. Robert Helpmann??

            Re: Good


            /ˌbämˈbastik/ adjective

            high-sounding but with little meaning; inflated.

            Needs to work on the high-sounding portion of the rant to achieve the stated effect. I give it a 6 out of a possible 10.

        2. OldSoCalCoder

          Re: Good

          ICANN ended being subject to the US Dept of Commerce in 2016, bob. Everything I've read so far suggests this sell-off of .org to a for-profit shell company was a done deal. I'm very confused in the point you're trying to make here. Are you saying the sale wasn't going to go through because someone else was going to step in with a rational voice and say this deal is nuts? Are you in favor of this deal that's blatantly a conflict of interest?

          As far as your shallow view of California, you obviously haven't spent time below the Orange Curtain (Orange County, home of John Wayne Airport), Simi Valley (home of Ronald Reagan Library) or any of the lovely San Joaquin Valley or north of San Francisco, both home to oil & gas, ag, forestry and commercial fishing. Bastions all of right wing thinking.

        3. martinusher Silver badge

          Re: Good

          >president brown "

          You're a tad out of date. The governor is Gavin Newsom. The California AG is Xavier Becerra and he's not one that likes to be messed with. California is a largish state with an economy that's about the size of the UK's and, like the UK, it has an interest in people who work closed door deals to try to corner a market in things, especially if those 'things' are not so much real property as something that's held in trust for all of us.

          I know that people who don't live here have strong opinions about a state they know nothing about, hence tortured constructs like "Cali-Fornicate-You". Its just like anywhere else -- it tends to be progressive but its more a consequence of necessity than ideology. (Read up on its history....)

  4. Matthew "The Worst Writer on the Internet" Saroff

    I'm thinking that the if the investigation looks for evidence of self-dealing, which is a crime, they will find it,

    1. Schultz
      Thumb Up

      There is hope ...

      that they'll actually get to the bottom of this story now.

      On the other hand, if they really got a >1 billion dollar business planned out, what is the chance that some high-powered lawyers start running circles around the Californian AG? I expect that there will be some frantic calls to lawyers right now, because every further step from ICANN and PIR may turn out to be very expensive -- in terms of lawyer fees and (potentially) time served :).

      Bu then, they probably can roll-over the lawyer cost onto the .org registration fees. If you have a money printing machine, why not use it?

      1. TRT

        Re: There is hope ...

        We are .org Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: There is hope ...

        Just watch the right ti repair bills. Thankfully most state officials notice the lies and scams but sadly lots of publicity recorded offers to "discuss this privately to explain the complex matters" followed by a 5 or 6 figure sum "donation" the next day. Amazing as said because this is all publically available info.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: There is hope ...

        The California AG's office is quite well funded. They might be able to run circles around most states, but doing it around California (or New York's) AG offices isn't quite so easy.

  5. Matthew "The Worst Writer on the Internet" Saroff

    I'm thinking that the AG is looking for evidence of self-dealing, which they probably find.

    Self-dealing is unlawful, and in extreme cases, which this seems to be, is actually criminal.

    1. EveryTime

      This does seem to be self-dealing, and it's extreme.

      The secretly negotiated insider deal is over $1.1B. The net value is certainly much more, perhaps $5B. That is a huge amount of value to transfer from the public into private pockets.

      Even if the deal doesn't happen, there should be a criminal investigation.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Cali-fornicate-you's AG has _NO_ jurisdiction here. He's just a "full of himself" liberal, like so many OTHER Cali-fornicate-you politicians.

      (hopefully this is as bad as it gets with these idiots. There's another election this year, time to get rid of as many of them as we can! Unfortunately, and sadly, it most likely won't happen...)

      I think the AG has more important fish to fry, anyway, like maybe prosecuting people who commit "quality of life" crimes, the way Giuliani did in NYC [made it a safe place to live again]. So all of this is just a bunch of POSTURING and a distraction from NOT doing anything about the REAL problems in Cali-fornicate-you [ like human poo on the streets of San Francisco ].

      1. Intractable Potsherd

        Bob - your frothing has broken through and damaged my keyboard - see icon. I'd like a new one, please!

        Seriously, though, this isn't either/or - looking into this issue doesn't prevent anything else being investigated. As you say, the CA-OAG has *very* deep pockets.

    3. Jason B

      "Self-dealing is unlawful, and in extreme cases, which this seems to be, is actually criminal."

      Isn't anything that's unlawful criminal?

      1. veti Silver badge

        Nope. There's a whole sliding scale, from "unlawful" to "criminal", via "illegal" and "illicit".

        Leaving your car in a parking space ten minutes after the meter has run out - unlawful. Not putting any money in the meter in the first place - illegal. Parking on the hard shoulder of a motorway - illicit. Parking in the centre lane of a motorway - criminal.

      2. STOP_FORTH Silver badge

        Legal advice

        Nope. Unlawful and illegal are different things under English Law.

        It used to be the case that having sex with someone you weren't married to was unlawful but nobody has been prosecuted for this in a very long time. (Recent legislation may have changed this - IANAL.)

        Unlawful means you are not supposed/allowed to do something, but there is no criminal act. You might get fined but you won't go to chokey.

        Never take legal advice from an engineer.

        Piracy has been illegal for about 2000 years.)

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    opening the ICANN

    of worms

  7. Roland6 Silver badge

    "ICANN in turn has asked PIR"

    I would hope that "ask" and "request" are just euphemisms for "ordering" and thus the PIR board have no real choice (if they wish to keep their jobs) but to comply.

  8. Kibble 2

    One hopes that PIR and ISOC refuse to disclose their data resulting in either a court suit and/or a state takeover of their offices to find the requested info. I'd prefer the second choice as it would give the green light to the state to go fishing for more incriminating evidence on ICANN's other activities.

  9. karlkarl Silver badge

    Once .org is lost, Will we simply not just move to a new one referring to non-profit organisations?

    My vote is .nac ("Not A C*nt").


    Has quite a cool ring to it :)

    1. Velv

      There is a LOT of investment in a namespace, so while a new domain in and of itself might be cheap, moving one's internet presence to a new domain is not cheap.

      There then remains the "who will pay for the .org"? Example. moves to children.nac. is not renewed, goes on the market, and is bought by nefarious people who pretend to be a charity.

      This is non-profit organisations who are typically using all their money for more worthwhile causes than lining the pockets of ICANN, PIC, and whoever else is involved.

    2. veti Silver badge

      To make that work, everyone would have to agree on the domain to move to, and everyone would have to move more or less together. And the new TLD would need to have its hands meticulously tied to prevent it from pulling the same thing in future.

      The alternative - several TLDs competing for the non-profit market segment - would lead to confusion, factionalism and loss of trust in the whole idea. In other words, mission accomplished - for the big-money interests that want to drive such tawdry "non-profit" nonsense to the fringes of the web and allow a clearer run for the good, healthy pursuit of $$$.

  10. MacroRodent

    To the streets!

    Article: Last weekend, protesters took to the streets in Los Angeles, Calif., where ICANN is based, to present the organization with a 35,000-signature petition opposing the deal.

    I wonder if this is the first-ever street protest to oppose an internet domain transfer?

  11. Reginald Onway

    DNS 2.0: Who are you? I won't tell 'ya!

    Sounds like some secret data mining op. Maybe black bag government money involved. In other words, the usual.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: DNS 2.0: Who are you? I won't tell 'ya!

      "Sounds like some secret data mining op."

      like browsers using DNS via https through 'browser maker owned' hoovering name servers... from the "yeah, THAT'll fix it" department.

  12. gnarlymarley

    who runs it?

    Technically you can say I don't care who runs the .org as long as the price doesn't go up and the service quality doesn't go down.

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