SaveDotOrg Supporters Protested Outside ICANN

More than two dozen people protested outside the Los Angeles headquarters of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to object to the billion-dollar sale of the entity that oversees the .ORG domain.

“I went in with not a lot of hope for the day,” NTEN CEO Amy Sample Ward said, “but part of what you do at a protest is send a message.” She estimated about 30 people turned out for the demonstration, which included speeches from organizers of NTEN and Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) as well as other attendees.

Shortly after the two-hour protest ended at 11 a.m. local time, the ICANN board came out to meet with them, according to Ward. Chairman Maarten Botterman told her that the board “does see this as an important issue, they don’t want the .org domain to be ruined, and that they are taking this seriously,” she said.

In November, it was announced that the Internet Society (ISOC) reached an agreement to sell Public Interest Registry (PIR) and all of its assets to venture firm Ethos Capital for $1.135 billion. Reston, Va.-based PIR is responsible for the .org assignment and preservation of those domains. The ISOC plans to use the proceeds to establish an endowment.

“I do think there’s a lot that rests over this meeting,” Ward said, since it’s the last time the board is meeting in person before the deadline to disapprove the sale, or do nothing, which in essence would approve the sale. ICANN and PIR recently agreed to an additional 30 days for review of the sale, until Feb. 17.

If the ISOC can no longer be stewards of the .org domain, which should not be for sale or profit, Ward said that ICANN has the responsibility to step in.

ICANN announced there will be some public access to this weekend’s meeting workshops, she said, and SaveDotOrg will have representatives who will be attending at that time.

Opponents of the proposed sale recently established the Cooperative Corporation of .ORG Registrants, to provide an option to ICANN to move the contract to the co-op. The goal, according to organizers, is to recognize that the ISOC has lost trust among nonprofit leaders because of the attempted sale.

There are more than 22,200 signatures from 700 organizations on a petition at SaveDotOrg, run by NTEN, a Portland, Ore.-based technology nonprofit.