Charities rejoice as ICANN rejects sale of .org domain system

  • Sale of the .org domain name system to a private capital firm has been rejected, as charities using .org domains breathe a sigh of relief.

    Every website on the internet pays a registrar annually for the right to use a specific domain name, such as or The original domain name system started off with just a handful of domain extensions, each designed for a particular type of organisation. We had .com for companies, .edu for educational institutions, .gov for government websites, .org for non-profit organisations, and a few others.

    The domain name system has been extended a lot over the years, with countries getting their own extensions (such as .ie and for Ireland and the UK respectively) and new extensions such as .info being created. The restriction on buying .org domains was also lifted last year, but the convention of using .org domains for non-profits has remained.

    The Public Internet Registry that runs the .org domain system was sold to private equity firm Ethos Capital last November for an undisclosed sum rumoured to be around $1bn US. The Electronic Frontier Foundation and other groups lobbied against the sale, saying that the new owner would run the .org registry as a for-profit business and could hike up prices for thousands of charities and non-profits using the domains.

    Those groups can breathe a sigh of relief now as the transfer of the .org registry has been blocked by governing body ICANN, which has the final say on the domain registry transfer. This has been seen as a huge win for charities around the world, though a new operator for the registry may need to be found. The Electronic Frontier Foundation issued a statement about the win, including:

    "In a stunning victory for nonprofits and NGOs around the world working in the public interest, ICANN today roundly rejected Ethos Capital’s plan to transform the .ORG domain registry into a heavily indebted for-profit entity. This is an important victory that recognizes the registry’s long legacy as a mission-based, non-for-profit entity protecting the interests of thousands of organizations and the people they serve."

    Source: BBC News, EFF

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    Brendan is a Sync NI writer with a special interest in the gaming sector, programming, emerging technology, and physics. To connect with Brendan, feel free to send him an email or follow him on Twitter.

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