ICANN Pauses Sale of PIR to Ethos Capital for 30 days

December 18, 2019 | Investments, News, Private Equity

ICANN Pauses Sale of PIR to Ethos Capital for 30 days

ICANN, the internet registration firm, announced it would pause its sale of the .org domain registry to the private equity firm Ethos Capital. The delay will last 30 days as stakeholders investigate the planned deal.

“ICANN’s role is to ensure that the .org top-level domain remains secure, reliable, and stable under the proposed acquisition of Public Interest Registry (PIR) by Ethos Capital,” ICANN President and CEO Göran Marby said in a statement. “We also urge transparency, which is why we sent the 9 December correspondence to PIR and the Internet Society (ISOC).”

The domain registry is home to thousands of public interest nonprofits organizations that pay low domain registration fees. The public backlash against the deal came after the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers’ (ICANN) decided to remove price caps on .ORG domains.

Following that decision, ICANN announced the registry’s sale to Ethos Capital for $1.1 billion.

Electronic Frontier Foundation and ICANN

The announcement comes amid sharp pushback from leading internet advocacy. The Electric Frontier Foundation (EFF) is demanding a stop to the sale. More than 500 nonprofit companies have signed an EFF petition to oppose the $1.1 billion sale.

Participants in the petition include the Girl Scouts, the League of Women Voters, Farm Aid, and Meals On Wheels, according to an EFF statement.

The EFF also claims that the private equity firm has no public record in managing internet assets.

“We are concerned that PIR may wield the threat of domain suspension to influence the political, social, religious, journalistic, or personal expression of .ORG registrants and their users at the request of corporations or governments,” EFF said in a recent letter.

Meanwhile, Ethos has publicly said it is looking for ways to limit price increases. The private equity firm will also host a series of webinars in the near future to discuss its options.

Recent: Natixis Investment Managers Survey Shows Shift To Private Investments

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