EFF launches SaveDotOrg campaign as Public Interest Registry sale announced

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, along with a variety of other web entities such as Creative Commons and Internet Archive, have launched the SaveDotOrg campaign which urges the Internet Society (ISOC) to cancel the sale of the Public Interest Registry (PIR) to Ethos Capital, the largest private equity firm in sub-Saharan Africa.

According to the group, spearheaded by EFF, the sale of PIR will affect NGOs all over the world that rely on the .ORG top-level domain (TLD). The sale of the PIR could see .ORG registration fees being increased without the approval of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) or the .ORG community. EFF pointed out that many NGOs are in a difficult situation when it comes to cash and that many could be forced to pay increased fees or lose the legitimacy that the .ORG domain brings.

Image via EFF

After the sale, EFF worries that Ethos Capital may unilaterally implement Rights Protection Mechanisms which could end up censoring legal non-profit activities. Additionally, the new buyer could add processes to suspend domain names based on accusations of “activity contrary to applicable law.” EFF said the buyer shouldn’t implement such processes because countries use this method to target NGOs which they don't like.

EFF topped off the letter by pointing out that ISOC, when it proposed transferring management of .ORG to PIR back in 2002, promised that it would “draw upon the resources of ISOC’s extended global network to drive policy and management.” It views the selling off of PIR as a betrayal of that promise made nearly two decades ago.

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