back to article Four months, $1bn... and ICANN still hasn’t decided whether to approve .org sale with just 11 days left to go

In 11 days, DNS overseer ICANN is supposed to rule on the $1.13bn purchase of a critical piece of the internet – the .org registry with its 10 million domain names. But ICANN has yet to even decide what criteria it will use decide whether to green-light the takeover. Despite two previous postponements, four months’ notice, …

  1. HildyJ Silver badge


    I don't need coronavirus to make me sick. All I need is to read of the corporate greed driving the sale of .org. ICANN's statements and, even more, their refusal to make statements is clearly indicative that they intend to take the money and run. The .org domain will be sucked dry and it's users will be left twisting in the wind.

    1. Yes Me Silver badge

      Re: Sick

      What are you talking about? There is no new money for ICANN in this proposal. There is no new money for ISOC either; just an endowment to replace an existing revenue stream. There is, presumably, new money in prospect for Ethos Capital, or they wouldn't have put $1.35B on the table. But if so, that's no different from all the other investors in the DNS registry business. Their capital, their risk.

      As I've said before, I don't like the fact that DNS registration became a business. But that was in 1998 and there's nothing to be done about it.

    2. Schultz

      PIR is soliciting comments until March 13

      Go to and tell them what you think. Otherwise they'll continue pretending that nobody really cares.

      1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

        Re: PIR is soliciting comments until March 13

        Ah, to be idealistic once more...

        Regardless of what Joe Public has to say, they'll continue pretending nobody really cares.

        ICANN is just gonna sit back, have a nice cup of tea and wait for all this to blow over.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    I'm sure that Ethos Capital has assured ICANN that a strict governance mechanism will be in place!

    And that Ethos-funded governance mechanism will involve quarterly meetings in glamorous international resorts, with each meeting involving 1 or 2 hours of perfunctory discussion the status of the .org TLD, followed by 3 or 4 days of lying on a beach sipping umbrella drinks. All this punctuated by gourmet meals at local restaurants. And I am sure that Ethos will be paying a handsome consulting fee to ICANN board members for their time and valuable input into the future operation of .org.

    So, on appearance, it may seem that ICANN is becoming the FIFA of the internet, but really we should move along, because there is nothing to see here!

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Post title shortened to meet ethical guidelines

      ICANN is already the FIFA of the internet. There's non becoming involved here. And it became of under the chairmanship of Chehade, who is apparently one of the driving forces behind Ethos capital.

      I'm sure that ICANN's meeting here wasn't about whether they were going to approve the .org buyout. It was about whether they think they can get away with doing it. If opposition ever gets high enough that the internet industry decides to dump ICANN and get someone else to do its jobs.

      So long as they can keep being shit, as now, opaque and slightly annoying - that's fine. They can still increase their bonuses every year and the gravy train rolls on. As long as handing over to the ITU or some other such body looks worse than the inconvenience of their existence - then things are grand. The board can keep holding investigations into itself by retired judges who find against it - and then ignoring them. Meanwhile collecting their fat bonuses.

      If they ever become too annoying and obviously greedy - then they'll lose everything. Hence they'll probably back down here - or put the deal up for analysis by an "independent body" and hope the fuss dies down.

      After all, it worked with the .amazon thing. By delaying for 5 years, it was clear that the governments didn't care all that much really. They were just having an enjoyable whine. And they'd taken Amazon's money - so as they had no legal reason not to do what they'd promised, they were more worried about getting sued by Amazon than annoying the South American governments.

  3. julian_n

    So is there any reason why a few DNS vendors - perhaps starting with Google, could not set up a parallel .org (i.e. resolve it rather than pushing it up).

    It would only take a few more to follow and all of a sudden that $1bn investment is down the pan.

    1. Degenerate Scumbag

      Other than the fact such action would have traditionally been regarded as extremely bad form that "breaks the internet", I don't believe so. There have actually been several alternative root server organizations, some functioning just as independent mirrors of the ICANN root, some serving kooky non-ICANN TLDs. Some continue to run:

      It really is the nuclear option, though, and I don't see corrupt corporations like Google using it in a stand against corporate corruption.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Google DNS and firefox forcing DNS over HTTPS seems to be them dipping their toes in the water. At the very least, internet nuclear bunkers for the stuff.

        1. Yes Me Silver badge
    2. teknopaul Silver badge

      I think it would be a good thing to set up. A self-registration system so that you can prove your the owner of a .org before the sell-off and a mechanism for verification there after.

      This would send a message that people are looking to move, even without a dns alternative.

      I'm up for working on code if anyone else is interested.

  4. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "get this wrong, and there is no reason for ICANN to exist"

    Oh boy, if only. I can but smirk when I hear of trust in ICANN, and in its model. If you're talking about the way it should have been, the spirit of its inception, then maybe, but if you're talking about what it has become as "model", then it should be purged with flame and the Earth on which it stands salted so nothing can ever grow again.

  5. Schultz

    There is no way to justify this sale ...

    but a billion dollar needs no justification. It creates its own ripple in space-time, pulling even the most ethocal minds into its vortex of possibilities.

  6. oiseau Silver badge


    ... proposed purchaser Ethos Capital has close ties to former ICANN executives, including its former CEO and its former head of compliance. And it turns out Ethos isn’t even the final purchaser. It is, in fact, owned by a confusing nest of three different Delaware shell companies - Purpose Domains Direct LLC, Purpose Domains Holdings LLC, and Purpose Domains Investments LLC.

    Hmmm ...

    1. Lack of transparency --> check

    2. Secrecy --> check

    3. Repeted refusals to disclose basic facts --> check

    4. Multiple shell companies in an offshore haven --> check

    5. Unknown money/people behind all this --> check

    6. Former ICANN Ceo and ex-employees involved --> check

    There's is nothing suspicious here.

    It is quite certain to anyone at this point in time that this is nothing but a shameless scam.

    And it has to be stopped ASAP.

    Communicacion, an activity into which the internet in it's various forms has progressively incarnated during the past three decades is a public service which has to be properly regulated.

    In the interest of the public, not in the interest of the few corporations at its core.


  7. cipnt

    You can only have one Domain Name System; it is a monopoly by design, therefore it should be operated by not-for-profit organisations under the supervision of an international governing body like the UN.

    Verisign operates .com and makes over $1 billion in profit every year.

    Nominet operates .uk and makes a more modest £10 million profit every year.

    *approximate numbers from memory

    1. Yes Me Silver badge

      ... should be operated by not-for-profit organisations

      The problem with your "should" is that this approach was explicitly refused by the Clinton Administration in 1998, so we are stuck with a privatised top level domain registration business and all its consequences.

    2. eldakka Silver badge

      You can have more than one Domain Name System, there are other DNS systems out there, just not many people use them. Hell, having an /etc/hosts with hardcoded host:IP mappings is a local alternative DNS system.

      There is absolutely no technical reason another large, powerful body couldn't set up their own alternative DNS system, say the EU, or a body formed specifically for this purpose, e.g. the BRIC countries gathering together to do it, or even a purely commercial cartel such as big (or a shedload of small to medium ones) IT companies banding together to do it. You'd just need enough mass behind it to make it effective.

      There are political ramifications to it though.

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