Congress worries sale of .org could harm non-profits

Jon Fingas
Associate Editor
Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Control over the .org internet domain is close to changing hands, and American politicians aren't happy. Senators Richard Blumenthal, Elizabeth Warren and Ron Wyden have joined Rep. Anna Eshoo in sending a letter demanding answers over the Internet Society's sale of .org and the Public Interest Registry (which manages the domain) to a private equity firm, Ethos Capital. The congresspeople want everyone involved to both outline how transparent they'll be as well as assurances that they'll keep the domain accessible, neutral and safe for non-profits.

The Senate-led group was particularly concerned that any price hikes for .org should be "reasonable," and that policies will both respect the non-profit community and get input on issues like costs. The politicians also wanted to know how the group would preserve "content neutrality" and resist pressure to censor material. While the Public Interest Registry said it was instituting a stewardship council meant to uphold its "core founding values," the congresspeople didn't believe it said enough about what that meant.

The recipients have until January 6th, 2020 to answer the questions. It's not certain that they'll get satisfactory answers or take action if the organizations fall short of expectations. Even so, it's apparent that they want a virtually seamless transition for .org that makes it an ideal home for people who can't justify the prices or restrictions of domains like .com.