Stop the sale of the .org registry! savedotorg.org
savedotorg.org and its supporters are urging the Internet Society to stop the sale of the Public Interest Registry to private equity firm Ethos Capital, and to ensure that the NGO community has a voice in decisions affecting the future of .org.
First of all, what is .org?
If you work in the charitable sector, you will probably be familiar with the .org suffix on web addresses. Either your own organisation uses a .org (or .org.uk) website and email address setting, or see others that user it (for example, nicva.org).
This part of a web address (or domain name) is known as the "top-level domain" (TLD), or sometimes the "extension".
.org is a generic TLD, meaning that it is not specially reserved for use solely by non-profit organisation. As with .com .info and .net, anyone can apply for a generic TLD.
However, the .org TLD is heavily relied upon by civic society organisations across the world. Its use signifies that the organisation has non-commercial interests, where another TLD would be less suitable (.com is short for ‘commercial’). Altogether, .org is used by over 10 million domains, mostly by charities, projects, campaigns and political parties.
What does it mean that .org is being sold, and why does it matter?
Public Interest Registry (PIR) ran the .org registry since 2003, and was owned by the Internet Society (ISOC)—itself a non-profit. The registry operated under the lines of a Registry Agreement which meant that the non-profit community had a key role to play in decision-making.
However, the Internet Society decided to sell PIR, and therefore control over a public interest registry will be lost to a private equity firm.
This will have a number of negative effects on the global NGO community as the primary users of .org, including a loss of control over the registry to a private firm.
In July this year, a modest $9.05 price cap that had kept annual domain name renewal fees down was removed, in spite of receiving almost 3,300 comments in opposition to the cap lift (with only six agreeing).
Almost 2,000 out of 6,400 registered charities in Northern Ireland (nearly a third) have provided a .org or .org.uk website or email address to the Charity Register. Although the sale of the registry is a global issue, it is clearly also an important issue for the local community and voluntary sector.
.org is also used in countries where civil society organisations are targeted and persecuted by government. The new agreement will mean that these organisations could have their domain names suspended when the new registry owner comes under pressure from those types of governments, having a major impact on the operations of civic society groups.
How can I support the campaign?
There are a couple of things you can do to stop the sale of .org to private interests.
First of all, you can add your individual support to the savedotorg.org campaign. At the time of writing, over 12,600 people have done so.
Secondly, and more importantly, your organisation can show its support by requesting that its name and logo be associated with the campaign.
NICVA is happy to support the campaign.