Late last night, ICANN announced that its Board of Directors “made the decision to reject the proposed change of control and entity conversion request that Public Interest Registry (PIR) submitted to ICANN.” A private entity company called Ethos Capital had a deal in place to acquire .org registry operator Public Interest Registry from the Internet Society. The news was shared on Twitter at around 10:30pm Eastern:
After a thorough evaluation process, the #ICANN Board is withholding consent to the request for a change of control of the Public Interest Registry (PIR). Read Board Chair Maarten Botterman’s blog for more information > https://t.co/qz8ub99lOt pic.twitter.com/oFrM0pulyM
— ICANN (@ICANN) May 1, 2020
The proposed deal had come under a great deal of scrutiny from many areas. Non-profit organizations, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), former ICANN leaders, the Internet Commerce Association and other groups and individuals were outspoken about the deal and ramifications of it. Three US Senators (Senator Wyden, Senator Warren, and Senator Blumenthal) also spoke out about the deal. What may have put the most pressure on the proposed deal was California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who had been in contact with ICANN regarding the pending deal.
In response to ICANN’s decision, Ethos Capital, PIR, and the Internet Society all posted statements on the KeyPointsAbout.org website. It does not specifically mention any plans to litigate or fight the decision, so it is not clear if this is the last we will hear about it.
As far as I understand, the operators of the .org registry have the ability to raise prices on .org domain names, so that will likely pose an issue for .org registrants going forward.
Kieren McCarthy of The Register published an article about ICANN’s decision, which has a great deal of insight about the decision and ramifications for ICANN. Kevin Murphy also published an article on Domain Incite with additional thoughts and information about the decision. You can also do a Twitter search to get the reactions from others who have been following this pending deal closely.