Sale of dot-org suffix nixed after protests

NEW YORK (AP) – After widespread opposition, the organisation overseeing Internet domain names has voted against the USD1.1 billion sale of the dot-org online registry to an investment firm.

The board of the Los Angeles-based Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers voted late Thursday not to allow the sale to Ethos Capital of the website suffix that is widely used by non-profits and community groups.

Activists, politicians and hundreds of organisations had protested that costs for non-profits would rise and freedom of expression would be at risk if a for-profit company were in charge of dot-org, one of the original domains created in the mid-1980s. Vetoing the sale is “reasonable, and the right thing to do”, said ICANN’s chair Maarten Botterman in a blog post.

Botterman noted the “fundamental public interest nature” of the organisation that currently oversees dot-org.

That would have been transferred to one “bound to serve the interests of its corporate stakeholders” had the sale gone through, he said.

He also expressed concern over what the debt involved in the transaction would mean for those dot-org users, which include public radio broadcaster NPR, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and medical humanitarian group Doctors without Borders.