Protest the Sale of .org Top Level Domains

December 10, 2019

A big change in the management of .org Top Level Domains (TLDs) is in the works, and you should be paying attention.

The Internet Society (which previously ran .ORG) sold .ORG recently (and plans to sell .NGO, and .ONG as well), leaving these TLDs open to privatization, rate hikes, and profiteering. A private equity firm named Ethos Capital has already acquired .ORG.

You might think that it’s strange that the TLD exclusively for non- and not-for-profits is now being run by a firm whose sole job is to maximize profit. You’d be right: it is strange, and smells rather fishy.

Among the implication of the sale are:

  • Price increases, because the previously-enacted price restrictions were removed by ICANN on June 30, despite public opposition, and because an equity firm’s job is, after all, to increase equity (not necessarily to shepherd valuable resources for future generations). 
  • Lost revenue for the nonprofit industry, which currently makes $94 million dollars each year from .ORG alone. Instead of this money going to support nonprofits, it will go into the pockets of private industry.

What you should do today

    1. Sign the petition
      Join NTEN and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) in signing this petition to protest the sale: https://savedotorg.org/. Don’t cede your influence – raise your voice and demand better for the millions of nonprofits that rely on .org.
    2. Check your domains
      Look up your domain expiration date. It only takes in 5 seconds: https://whois.domaintools.com/
    3. Buy extensions while rates are low
      To hedge your bets against a potential steep price hike, buy a 10 year extension on critical .org domains. Your nonprofit isn’t going anywhere, but your current domain registration rate could increase sharply after the sale – this is your insurance policy.

Learn more

To really appreciate how sketchy this whole deal is, read up on the recent shady dealings of ICANN, PIR, and Ethos Capital. It’ll make a good white collar backroom deal movie someday, but until then, this deal has the potential to harm millions of organizations and the people they serve.

    1. Excellent podcast by our friends at WholeWhale
    2. Gizmodo’s coverage
    3. Jacob Malthouse’s call to action

By Lesley Molecke

Lesley has been working on the web since she was in high school and ran her own small web design shop before she could drive. She has extensive experience performing user testing and usability studies, rewriting and improving complex language to appeal to a wide variety of audiences, and helping organizations adopt the right technologies to achieve their goals. Her heart really belongs to nonprofits and small businesses, where she can see the tangible benefits of a healthy web presence: donations, connections, engagements, and sales.