It’s been a low-key, simmering crisis of not only trust but even a test-case of the future and the governance of the web itself – ever since the news broke a few months back that an unknown, newly set-up private equity firm had become the owner of the .org registry.
In what seems a small, US election campaign-wise miracle – we now have a number of senators addressing this issue, that would have likely otherwise fallen by the wayside of “addressing itself” in the weeds of the global web’s all-but-non-existent governance.
That’s not to say that just because these senators at this point in the campaign have received some solid advice – it also must mean that once their election goal has been met, or failed – these same guys will ever look back or address this issue for us, ever again.
At the same time – setting aside for a moment the question of whether this truly and veritably global issue, affecting anyone owning a .org domain on the planet Earth – should be addressed by legislators of any one nation state at all – let’s hear the arguments of this US senator bunch first.
They’re made up of Ron Wyden – a Democrat backed up by a number of his partisan colleagues, including Elizabeth Warren – who first state the facts:
“In November, the (Internet) Society (a non-profit group) announced that it would sell control of the .org registry and its parent organization, Public Interest Registry, to the private equity firm Ethos Capital for more than $1 billion.”
The senators’ letter further correctly states that “the registry that controls .org must provide reliable and affordable domain services to nonprofits” – whereas the new owner, the for-profit Ethos Capital, quickly told anyone listening they would do nothing of the sort.
The US senators write (full letter – PDF file):
“The nonprofit community is understandably concerned about whether Ethos Capital, a private equity firm that has existed for less than six months, will act as a responsible steward over this core component of internet infrastructure.”
This is where we need to part ways with this group of US senators – who clearly have worthy campaign advisers on matters digital on their staff.
But it’s not the “non-profit community” only that is affected here. It’s every person or company that has ever had an .org domain bought, and built to their name or their brand over the history of the web – sometimes over several decades worth – under what’s now clearly a false premise of a public interest” TDL.
The real question here needs to be asked of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICAAN) – about how this takeover of the .org registrar was ever allowed to take place in the first place.