.ORG Sold to Private Equity Firm, Transparency Diminished
November 15, 2019
The Internet Society announced that it plans to sell the Public Interest Registry, which manages the .ORG domain, and all of its assets to Ethos Capitol, a private equity firm. The announcement follows a decision to remove price caps on domain name purchases that was widely opposed by the user community. EPIC's Marc Rotenberg, who was a founding board member and former chair of PIR, told Gizmodo he was "very disappointed" by the news. "We built the .org domain with the specific goal of promoting the noncommercial use of the Internet," Rotenberg said. "There are many models, including ICANN itself, that could allow for effective management of the domain by a non-profit corporation. There are critical elements of transparency and accountability that will be lost when the Public Interest Registry is acquired by a private equity firm." The PIR website currently states, "PIR's believes that a best practice is transparency and accountability to itself, its stakeholders, and the public. The release of our annual IRS 990 Form provides publicly-available financial information to maintain our non-profit status in good standing."