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ICANN board withholds consent for a change of control of the .org registry (icann.org)
1464 points by cjbprime 37 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 247 comments



Your voice matters! This victory was largely because of collective action on behalf of the people making such a fuss. Anyone who wrote to California's Attorney General should feel really proud of themselves right now; letters like yours likely directly caused this.


My non lawyer understanding is that Attorneys General effectively have an infinitely long list of crime to go after. The volume of outcry is an incredibly effective way to get your cause pushed up that list.


I hope this doesn't stop the AG from completing their investigation of ICANN which is a non-profit based in California. They should still subpoena all the communications at ICANN related to the proposed ownership transfer of .org that is outlined in the original letter to ICANN.

https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/correspondence/ca-ago-...


I am sure that ICANN is hoping the matter is just dropped now.


I am sure the PIR/ISOC and Ethos Capital are hoping this even more


Yeah, unfortunately, the truth is probably that they are regrouping and planning a different and more defensible path to the same outcome, and will just try this again in a few years.


ICANN did leave door open if they could convert PIR to a for profit in PA. I hope PA AG has something to say about this.


Can you describe this door? The Pennsylvania AG is pretty good, although probably not as technically inclined.


If you read the end of the full statement (https://www.icann.org/resources/board-material/resolutions-2...)

"If PIR is able to provide additional information that resolves the concerns raised by the Board, PIR remains able to re-submit or initiate a new Change of Control Request."

That's how they concluded, leaving the door open if they can manage to get past this hurdle.


A couple of dozens of millions of dollars in lobbying to their favorite parties may help them to think the right way


What can be done to initiate a change in their leadership?


Then we should ask, can we fund them more? Moreover, if we don't live in California, can we lobby our states to help pay for the Cali AG?


As someone who used to be a prosecutor, from society at large, I would have most appreciated the following.

a) Stop electing people whose platform is "tough on crime." These people come in with a mandate to do nothing but increase the number of cases on dockets and the numbers of years on sentences, both of which are extremely harmful to both the crim justice system and to society at large. This is why I would come into court every single day with an average of 6-8 trials scheduled (yes, every day), with some days bringing 14+. So what do you do with that? Well, you overcharge so you can plea them down. That's not justice. It's also why I was forced by the hand of the law to send a 20 year old with no priors to prison for 5 years after he was pressed into selling weed by the local gang and a gun was found in his room near the drugs. Someone wanted to appear tough on guns, so if a gun's found anywhere near drugs w/ intent to distribute, automatic 5 years. He was a good kid who made a mistake, his parents were crying and begging the court for mercy, his young sisters were in the back sobbing, and I had to stand there and be the representative of that law. One of the most shameful experiences of my life, and one of the things that directly led to me resigning.

b) Be okay with paying taxes. I can't even tell you the number of times every single week I would hear civilians in the courtroom complaining about how long they were stuck there. "This is where our tax dollars go??" Actually, this is where your tax dollars don't go, because there isn't enough of them to go around, so my office is stuck paying law school graduates with high loan burdens under $40k per year, and then burning them out in < 2 years because the case loads are so high.

I don't mean too sound harsh, but - the idea that other states should be funding another state's AG dept is frankly kind of ludicrous, it's not like it's a charity or nonprofit or something. The case volume they have is a direct result from the political forces at play in that state; that's true for any state. If they want more resources per case, they should lower the number of cases. That starts with the AG himself but includes the rest of the state-level government and the citizens making voting decisions.


> I don't mean too sound harsh, but - the idea that other states should be funding another state's AG dept is frankly kind of ludicrous, it's not like it's a charity or nonprofit or something. The case volume they have is a direct result from the political forces at play in that state; that's true for any state. If they want more resources per case, they should lower the number of cases. That starts with the AG himself but includes the rest of the state-level government and the citizens making voting decisions.

States pay the Pennsylvania Dept. of Food to regulate their food, and Pennsylvania has many bread and food companies. How are AGs and regulators different?


I think you got the name wrong, so I'm not sure what your point is. Do you have a link to the Pennsylvania Dept. of Food?


I had always read that prosecutors have near-total discretion about which cases to bring and how aggressively to pursue them. Did you have that kind of discretion? If not, how high up in the chain was it exercised?

Also, another question: how could you have 6 trials scheduled on the same day? Does that mean you had to be in 6 places at once, presented 6 cases to 6 juries? How does that even work?


Having an "effectively infinite" list of crime isn't the result of a lack of funding, but the size of the set of things that technically constitute "crimes". Quadrupling their funding would still leave them with an effectively infinite amount of crime they could deal with. (This being another place where "unbounded" is probably a better word than "infinite"... there isn't literally an infinite amount of crime, but it is the case that pretty much no matter what they do, when they reach for another crime to prosecute, there will always be one there.)

One of the subtle checks & balances in our system is that we don't even want prosecution to literally go after every crime... we want them to choose the things that are actually important. There's a lot of things labeled "crimes" today where the cost of enforcement greatly exceeds any value to society of that enforcement.

(Expanding on that, one of the biggest problems, if not the biggest problem, with automated crime enforcement is that it removes this check & balance that almost nobody has even realized exists yet.)


Rather than being a balance, doesn't this fact leave a giant hole open for biases and the influence of personal connections?


Yes, it does that too. It's an "and".

That said, I will still take "biased human picking what to prosecute" over "a prosecution sufficiently funded to prosecute literally everything". I mean, sure, I'd prefer "real justice", but "biased human" is still constrained in their actions and has to produce enough results useful to society to be able to hide their corruption in, whereas totally perfect enforcement would be a nightmare.


If we can imagine perfect AD funding, we can imagine better legislation, can't we? You can't have perfect legislation (philosophy is not yet advanced enough) and you can't have perfect AD funding, but here is my proposed solution: every time you improve AD funding you improve legislation, so that they both converge in lockstep to perfect in the limit of infinite time.


I think first perhaps we should decide on a good way to measure legislation if you plan to improve it. Good luck with that, because now you're right back to the problem of people's biases affecting the outcome.

The world is made of individuals and groups with biases, and as long as they have even the tiniest amount of power, those biases cannot be removed from the process.


An open legislative process involving debate among many representatives is way less susceptible to bias than the personal priorities of a district attorney.


> here is my proposed solution: every time you improve AD funding you improve legislation

My point is that locking "improved funding" to "improved legislation" is impossibly without a way to usefully measure improvements in legislation. Improving funding has a few ways to measure it, but in the discussion we've been having I took improved to mean "more". As for legislation, I don't think we want more legislation, but any measurement is rife with problems. As a simple example, legislation if perpetual until changed (or created with an expiration), and laws created today with a beneficial effect may have a deleterious effect years or decades from now. Examples of this are abundant, such as patent and copyright laws not dealing with the nuance of the digital age, to privacy laws not taking into effect the ability to store everything that happens in a way that can be indexed and accessed because of computers.

A moderately good law today may become a real problem tomorrow. Given that, how do we measure legislation when the effect time is essentially unbounded?


Would it be possible to design a criminal justice system that recognizes only a bounded amount of crime?

I.e., a legal system where the "choosing" of which cases to go after, is somehow built into the letter of the law (maybe with a high bar in the indictment process?), such that everything that is illegal by the letter of the law is something necessary to go after (the societal equivalent of a showstopping bug—serial killers, for example), rather than just a "nice-to-have" that could be indefinitely deprioritized.


yah, besides decriminalizing large swaths of behavior to make case loads manageable, let's further strike down any law that's more costly to enforce than it provides in benefits (it's literally absurd to have them). instead, put those in a civics manual that guides people on how to be a good citizen and avoid conflict (and lawsuits) with others. and teach civics in school again.


If you do that, you end up in the extreme with police departments not prosecuting anything that doesn’t have a financial benefit to the city.


that would only be true if the only benefits were financial ones to the municipality. that also requires a level of control and coordination that isn't present in many (especially larger) jurisdictions.

you'd instead be giving police the freed time and resources to both investigate real cromes like murder, theft and corruption, and also commit to community policing around observing, teaching and encouraging good civic behavior, rather than writing pointless jaywalking tickets.


On a related note, I often find that I don't know what to do if I want to help enact change at a level that's too far removed or high above me.

There are a number of factors at play here:

Sometimes, I'm not aware of the issue

I don't know if the offending party is amenable at any level to changing their mind

I don't know if something is possibly against the law (e.g. I didn't know the AG had a say until I say this post)

I don't know if the authorities or avenues of dissent that I have access to have any jurisdiction over or effect on the offending party

I often have very little insight into how others feel about the issue.

I don't know how much work needs to be done to shift proceedings (e.g. how many people need to contact the AG for them to change their priorities)

I don't know at what level I need to focus my efforts on (e.g. community, corporate, federal, ngo, etc.)

Everything is scattered all around the place.

For example, I saw this good idea in another HN post: "Would it be so hard to use less packaging on foods, especially snacks?". I have an opinion on this, but I don't know how to effectively voice it.

Is there an existing system, or can we make a better system to most effectively turn our opinions on the matter into action?


It's usually more effective to have specialized interests, since it's very rare to have agreement on multiple issues across a large population (this should be intuitive to the HN crowd, where every issue you add doubles the number of potential positions, even though they're not random).

Find an organization that already exists and get involved in it. If one doesn't exist, create one.

For packaging, you'd have a few potential avenues: 1. Work to build support politically. Even small groups of 30-40 people (or smaller) are very attractive for local politicians to meet and speak with. 2. Reach out to companies directly. 3. Get earned media (possibly in conjunction with 1 or 2).

If you have small, achievable, reasonable goals, then it may even be a win-win scenario for all of the above, which makes it easier to make progress. For example, you could have a campaign goal of reducing x% of packaging to reduce y tons of waste.

It could be positive media attention for a company to say they've worked with a group like yours (or a small local company!) to reduce packaging and help save the environment (and it may even save the company money).

Finding ways for everyone to win and creating a big tent (as opposed to trying to influence by vilifying) tends to be more successful, in my experience.


It feels good to win one.


well i heard it was because the AG was looking into PIR AND ICANN. And ICANN could not afford to get subpoenaed into handing over their financials- as any monopoly would.


TBH, it's nothing to do with those lazy petitions. This happened because the CA's AG chose to be a good guy, leveraged his power and put a lot of effort into fighting the bad guys. I'm sure he's been offered fat kickbacks and received thinly veiled treats. After this stunt he won't be offered a high ranked corporate position to scheme shady things and won't be able to buy yachts and helicopters left and right. That's basically the price he's paid. I think attributing this win to some "voices" would be dishonest.


So he made a sacrifice because, what, he just woke up one morning and felt like it? No. It's because the public brought it to his attention with enough public support to probably not hurt his career.


Sometimes it's because they woke up and felt like it. You don't immediately stop having having feelings about issues like you or me as soon as you're in the AG office.

If that's just too wild to consider, it probably also looks good come next election.


> Sometimes it's because they woke up and felt like it. You don't immediately stop having having feelings about issues like you or me as soon as you're in the AG office.

Maybe, but probably not in this case.

The idea being put forward here is the AG's actions had "it's nothing to do with those lazy petitions" and other kinds of activism. That's clearly false. There are literally millions of good causes and issues, and no one just wakes up and decides to help one in particular. They need to learn information about both the problem and the action, and that information needs to be brought to their attention. For instance, it's almost certain there's something like a charity that you'd certainly give money to, but you don't because you're totally ignorant of it. It'll take a news article, a conversation with a friend, etc. to bring it to your attention, first.

Petitions and activism are, among other things, ways of steering the attention of those in power. I doubt the AG would have taken action independently unless his attention has been so steered. Organizations like ICANN are not of perennial law enforcement interest.


> The idea being put forward here is the AG's actions had "it's nothing to do with those lazy petitions" and other kinds of activism. That's clearly false.

It's likely false, because I'm sure it had something to do with those petitions even if a very small amount, but there are many other possible reasons it could have become a priority to an AG. It's not either the petitions or he did it out of the goodness of his heart.

But my point wasn't to imply he did it because he's a good guy, but to point out he's a regular person with myriad motivations which likely includes doing what he thinks is the right thing in the calculation of what to do. There's no reason to assume that just because someone holds public office they're entirely self-serving. People are more complicated than that.


I'm sorry to be dense, but that's a naive view, that an otherwise sleazy sociopath can be forced to behave by public opinion.

Good people give food to homeless because they see value in doing so, not because they fear repercussions from public opinion.


I think it's basically the theory of democratic elections though.

That someone has to present themselves as a non-sleazy person with non-sleazy plans to get elected, and if they do something different once elected or otherwise do something the voters recognize as super sleazy, they won't get re-elected. So a person in an elected position is responsive to public opinion, or does not remain elected.

Whether it's working out so well for us in the USA, I dunno.


Why do you think AG Becerra chose to put some of his limited resources toward this issue?


Because "in the world of souls there are two poles and between the two, wastes time and disappears into nothingness the majority of the humanity".


Citation needed.

Other than your cynicism about the effectiveness of petitioning for redress, why do you think this is true?

What in Becerra's background makes you think he's angling for a revolving-door job?

Other than you showing us that you "know" how the "game" is played, what can you back this view up with? Something seems lazy here, and it isn't the people writing letters.


not to denegrate the achievement of beating the scum, but the bad guys here are minnows in the grand scheme of things

they're selling domain names, not running an oil major or large defence contractor


Everyone involved should still be stripped of their position/title. Totally unacceptable that this was even on the table.

The WSJ editorial board had an Op-ed about this[0], and tried very hard to make it seem like it was an overreach by the AG and it was vital that ICANN go through with this. I was honestly surprised, they're generally level-headed and while they do side with wall street over main street they don't make fallacious arguments.

[0] https://www.wsj.com/articles/working-the-webs-referees-11588...


WSJ Op-Eds constantly make fallacious arguments in the service of big business and Wall Street.


WSJ leans whatever way News Corp wants post 2007 acquisition.


Also of note, NewsCorp sends lawyers and strategists to every ICANN meeting, and has since at least 2010, if not before.


Possibly because they used to own MySpace and got in the habit?


Really? that’s shocking. Do you have any sources you can share that confirm this?


I think there are maybe attendance lists for some of the sub meetings?

As to myself, I have first hand knowledge they were there; I talked to some of them face to face at some of the ICANN meetings. Anyone can attend most ICANN meetings, they are open and public.


WSJ editorial board carried water for the ridiculous Bush government before that. It's been the print equivalent to Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity for quite some time.


It was easily always the worst part about the WSJ.


All sides of mainstream media are worthless in my book. Mainstream media is a net negative on society, and it's especially shown now with media trust at record lows.

This isn't just one company or one side of partisan MSM. NYT lied about WMDs in Iraq repeatedly, WaPo lied about a Russian hack of critical US power infrastructure and CNN struggles to tell the truth when telling you the time of day.


What is “mainstream media”? Media that doesn’t fit your biases? Because I constantly hear this “mainstream media” trope from conservatives, but it is only applied to liberal news sources, never RT, Fox, Breitbart, etc.


I’d assume newspapers, radio, and cable—the media with social currency in american society. There is certainly no shortage of criticism to be had from the left, either, so this attitude that “there is only conservative bias in mainstream media” is a little head scratching to me when ever I hear it.


Fox, Breitbart, CNN, MSNBC, New York Times, Washington Post. All of them.

Which of the names that I've just mentioned hasn't made huge, glaring journalistic errors repeatedly?

Even throw in the self-described 'neutral' outlets like NPR, Associated Press and others and you see the same thing. Repeated lies, walkbacks and egregious errors.

I don't know why any person would apologize for corporate media.


You make it sound like you expect people to be infallible.


Not at all, but the nature of mistakes is revealing of the journalistic bias of those working for those organizations.

When Washington Post falsely claims the Russians hacked into critical US energy infrastructure, this isn't a harmless typo or a flubbed detail.

When the New York Times repeatedly lies about WMDs in Iraq and tens of thousands of people die, this isn't a harmless typo or a flubbed detail.

Those are the obvious ones, the most egregious behavior is what they don't report on or cover up.

If the internet wasn't around to fact check the lies of mainstream media in real-time, imagine what they'd be getting away with.

Why do you think they're deserving of your defense? Their actions are neither harmless nor accidental. These aren't innocent mistakes.

These are recent examples. If you go back further, the same news outlets were repeating CIA propaganda via Operation Mockingbird and other efforts.


All news organizations lie and mislead. This is because all people lie or mislead or misrepresent or exaggerate or fuck up or whathaveyou. I contend that it's not enough to merely establish that certain news organizations have lied, or misled, or made mistakes, or colluded in the past to wholesale reject information from these news sources. Rather it needs to be established that they are flawed at an extraordinary degree relative to other organizations (though I concede that this is far-far-far-far-far easier said than done).

> If the internet wasn't around to fact check the lies of mainstream media in real-time, imagine what they'd be getting away with.

Wasn't there a phrase, "Don't believe everything you read on the Internet"? What if you listen to fact-checkers who themselves cherry-pick and distort? How would you know?

With all that said, there are serious flaws with how news is distributed which can make these human characteristics more pronounced (and I suspect our opinions of the so-called "mainstream media" are actually more similar than they are different), and that we generally ought to use the news to point us toward actual primary sources we can review for ourselves, rather than use the news as a source of anger-pornography (which gets tons of clicks) to bolster our misguided opinions.

As a consumer of sources of information, I'm just trying to make decisions based upon a tiny fraction of an extremely limited amount of information we know about the world around us (which I'd argue the vast majority of what we read isn't particularly helpful).

So what I'm getting at is that I feel that your tone is far too generalized to really be meaningful in any sense.

(I apologize if that sounds harsh)


Speaking at a personal level, if you consume news media you're more likely to be depressed. For this reason alone you shouldn't read the news. After all, do you really need to know about every single legislative and political minutiae that's the flavor of the day?

The rest of planet agrees with me. News media is very untrusted (last I read it's somewhere around 60% untrustworthy), and the industry is rapidly dying.

Faced with impending doom, the journalists at the helm of those corporate monstrosities sought to double down on lies and clickbait. Open up the Network tab on any news website these days and you'll see all the tracking and advertising garbage they've resorted to as well.

By reading news, you're supporting this behavior and also (statistically speaking) doing yourself harm in the process.


I disagree that one should avoid any source of depression. In some instances, relevant bad-news which is also truthful ought not be avoided simply because it may exacerbate depression. The hard part, of course, is discerning what is relevant.

Of course it's unhealthy to consume an unhealthy amount of worthless news, but that's tautological.

I'll also note that 60% of the planet is not "the rest of the planet", and I'd bet that a large chunk of the 60% you reference merely believe that their "news sources" (I'm using this term very loosely here, such as sketchy blog posts, so-called alt-news sources, and 4-chan memes) are more reliable than the news sources they don't like. Similar to how, say... the body of Congress is the least popular branch of the U.S. government year after year, yet people reelect their Congressperson year after year because they don't necessarily hold the same opinion of their Congressperson. It's hard for me to really tease anything meaningful out of your second paragraph.

The journalism industry is not "rapidly dying", it's rapidly changing, as with most industries over the past few decades. Unfortunately it's going down the path of shitty clickbait, but shitty clickbait isn't exclusive to the mainstream media.

I believe the real tragedy isn't the existence/worsening of so-called mainstream media, but rather the growing focus on national/international news at the expense of strong impactful local journalism.

I'm curious to hear about your solutions to these problems, as well as where you go to get informed.


We are not talking about fallible human beings when news coverage follows the same patter of the companies massive political campaign contributions. When media companies give away millions in order to influence the political environment, they loose the plausible deniability of being a political neutral entity which just happened to create news that follows a specific political direction.

There exist study (I would guess multiple) on the media landscape and which news company leans where and how. Some media companies are explicitly leaning in one direction, others less so. Some claim neutrality, and the study do support the existence of a very small minority that seems to achieve it. It is a subject I would like to see a meta study on in order to get a good estimate on how small the narrow band are of news sources that supply political neutral news.


You're much more likely to find level-headed business-friendly arguments in the opinion pages of the Financial Times than the WSJ. After News Corp bought it, its editorial section has become raggy. It's sad, because their regular news section is generally high quality (but with the same statist, status-quoist POV that the NYT and Washington Post have.)


When the issue of removing price caps first came up, I talked to a journalist at the WSJ about covering it. This was before they were even approved. The journalist was shocked at how this was all happening and could continue to happen. The story was killed by the editors.

I can't read the WSJ article because paywall but there appears to be an effort pushing the narrative that ICANN has to remain independent. On CircleID there are 3 articles (and 1 comment reply 11 minutes after the article was published) by VeriSign affiliated/PIR affiliated folks. The comment is a reply to a former VeriSign lobbyist by active VeriSign lobbyist. I can't prove anything, but it's definitely suspicious that there seems to be a lot of VeriSign connected folks who were trying to stop this deal. Oversight is perhaps the biggest threat to their golden goose. I wrote about it here https://reviewsignal.com/blog/2020/05/01/reflecting-on-org-s...

The WSJ hiding behind the editorial board making an this exact argument seems suspect. Their coverage was non existent and became not great once they did write about it. There are actual investigative journalists covering the issue with thought and depth. Kieran McCarthy at The Register, Timothy Lee at Ars Technica and more recently David Kaut at The Capitol Forum.

Prepare for a lot more articles like this one though and think about who stands to gain the most from them. It's always about the money.


I dunno, I've found WSJ's reporting to be poor for years.


Their editorial page has always been a bit of a joke (or eccentric, depending on who you ask). Their political reporting has been pro-business (no surprise), though people often confuse pro-business with pro-market. Their business reporting is mostly top-notch as is their investigative work (it was a WSJ reporter who exposed Theranos, despite Rupert Murdoch having a hundred million invested in it).


The WSJ editorial team produces great, detailed, and often groundbreaking coverage of business topics.

The opinion section, by contrast, is batshit insane.

It’s an important distinction.


News Corp is very good at manipulating the line. WSJ is not the same as it used to be. It is not fair and balanced. You can still still influence by omitting and focusing on key areas of stories. This applies to all media and News Corp orgs especially.


Fair and balanced media is an unobtainable ideal and certainly doesn't exist among any corporate news rags.

If you're trusting any corporate media to tell you balanced truth they're either lying to you and you don't realize it, or they're lying by omission (very common in MSM).

Even the Associated Press has made some pretty egregious errors triggering retractions or walkbacks, especially in the last few years.

Which corporate news outlet doesn't have a history of egregious lies and errors?


Unfortunately, for most of the population, it’s whatever they read/watch. For many conservatives, Fox News is gospel, and for many liberals, CNN is gospel.


Interestingly when Fox and CNN cover the same political event they can both come to opposite conclusions at the same time that present a victory for their side.

It really is like there are multiple realities.

But luckily enough, CNN and Fox are both more irrelevant than ever. There's a reason no young people watch. Young people get news from YouTube, Snapchat and other new media sources from people they trust.


The WSJ editorial board is garbage and will fall over themselves to side with corporate America even if it means making untenable arguments.


If you expect WSJ to not be in favor of hardcore right wing / business interest, then honestly its a lack of perception. They've had that reputation for years. You might consider taking this as an opportunity to reexamine where you believe level-headed and balanced lie in light of this example that you're familiar enough with to see the very large problems in their arguments and general position.


Absolutely. The general quality and of course objectivity of WSJ has gone downhill for years. It’s not a recent phenomenon.


In this case though, one would assume zero objectivity from any paper. The piece referenced is editorial.


Kind of a lazy one, though. And I say this as a WSJ subscriber who regularly finds the editorials worth reading even when I disagree with them. In this case, it's just knee-jerk anti-anti-capitalism without bothering to understand the nuances of the situation.


Would you say Washington Post is more balanced or about the same?


Totally agree; they should resign immediately.


I have found WSJ to carry one-sided articles with little factual basis quite frequently, actually.

Such travesties as: Perfect market theory, Chicago School/ dry economics, ignoring the negative effects of monopolies/ short-term extractive capitalism.

I know they used to be "reputable" but. Today large parts of America are a crumbling trashcan. Where is their acknowledgement of this problem, and how capitalism should solve it?

I would recommend The Economist as a factually-based business & economics subscription.


I can second The Economist. I find that they also have a pro-business/free market stance, but at least I find that they have reasonable and factual reporting, which I sometimes find lacking with the WSJ.


> I can second The Economist. I find that they also have a pro-business/free market stance...

To put it lightly. That stance defines it:

https://www.newstatesman.com/culture/books/2019/11/how-econo...


Thanks for sharing, fascinating read.


The AG's letter is a good read (and makes one angry too): https://oag.ca.gov/system/files/attachments/press-docs/AG%20...


Still doesn’t make up for ICANN’s other scams.

The canned collection of TLDs should have been abolished years ago, but when it looked like ICANN was going to do it and allow arbitrary TLDs, they turned it into a gargantuan rip-off and sham.


nothing new. they constantly make quality arguments in favor of their bias


WSJ articles are closed off behind a paywall.


This is the only intelligent move ICANN can make, especially considering the public out lash (including from state officials in CA). It's actually astounding that the organization managing .org actually thought they could get away with bold-faced cronyism so clearly opposed to the principles of the internet. That said, we certainly have to watch out for more acts like this.


Not just that, we have to investigate why ICANN thought they could get away with this. They will try again when convenient, otherwise.


I don't know anything about this but what has ICANN to gain from this sale?


The former CEO of ICANN was involved in Ethos Capital, the private equity trying to acquire .ORG. One of the two employees of Ethos Capital was a former ICANN VP. It was orchestrated by ICANN insiders.


It's not ICANN the entity, if it provided a real benefit to it the outcry would have been much smaller.

It's people inside ICANN abusing their position to strip ICANN and the web of things worth a lot of money for their own benefit.


Wrong question. The right question is what do the specific individuals at ICANN have to gain?


$$$$$$$


Quite.


> It's actually astounding that the organization managing .org actually thought they could get away with bold-faced cronyism so clearly opposed to the principles of the internet

What world do you live in where the internet exists outside the economy? What economy do you participate in that is not subject to cronyism? How could this be astounding?


[flagged]


When your lawyer has a check you wrote paying back bribery, blown up on the floor of the house and you don't immediately go to jail for simple fraud. Our potus.


If I allege the same of you, you don't "immediately go to jail", you go to court first.

Maybe you think the house is a kind of court? They don't meet that standard, or even try to; check out the Kavanaugh "trial".


>For example, just weeks ago highly placed senators were discovered to have conducted insider trading on the back of security briefings on the coronavirus pandemic

What did they know that wasn't already in the public eye? Banks were making their projects just like everyone else and nobody KNEW what was going to happen. Insider trading has a real legal definition, there was nothing in that briefing that could constitute insider trading because there was no information revealed there, just speculation that was already captured by public sources.


> Senators will have the opportunity to hear directly from senior government health officials regarding what we know about the virus so far, and how our country is prepared to respond as the situation develops.

So, non-public information regarding what the government response might be, including perhaps advising states to issue shelter-in-place orders that would tank the economy?

> there was nothing in that briefing that could constitute insider trading because there was no information revealed there

You have a transcript?


Weren't the accusations also that they profitted off it while downplaying the emergency to the general public?


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Unchecked capitalism. Capitalism that has had its systems of checks and balances slowly chipped away at by selfish leadership (I'm not pointing fingers at anyone in particular, as the history stretches back throughout multiple administrations).

As I said in a previous comment recently:

All the -isms are very loaded topics due to decades of misrepresentation (as is the nature of politics).

But, I think this post isn't the place to discuss it (which is, I think, why parent is getting downvoted).


I take your point, I'm referring more to the surrounding milieu that capitalism (as practiced in America, at least) has encouraged and driven and which it seems to have as its ultimate goal for society.


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Go on, do Eisenhower. Or Carter.


Why not Millard Filmore or Zachary Taylor? King George III, perhaps?

Regardless, I wasn't around for either but I can do a quick search and find Carter was the first sitting president questioned under oath[1], after a 7 month investigation. He was cleared but that does qualify as a scandal.

Eisenhower is going to be too easy, even as a war hero, but if you insist I will.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/07/nyregion/07curran.html


I suppose we should distinguish between "corruption scandal that found something", "corruption 'scandal' that cleared the President", and "corruption scandal where the President fired or tried to fire the investigators".


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But he is though. No other president has had quite so many people in his campaign staff jailed. https://www.axios.com/trump-associates-convicted-mueller-inv...


I'm glad you've found a metric that suits. Is this better or worse than the Afghanistan/Iraq war? Personally, I find the war(s) with its dodgy dossiers and myriad war crimes and everything that came out of it much worse but maybe I care more about people being bombed than people committing crimes like selling bank account numbers. How strange.

> He has no known connection to Trump.

Why is he listed then? I thought the headline read "All the Trump associates convicted or sentenced in the Mueller investigation" but maybe I'm wrong about that too. Am I wrong?

neotek 36 days ago [flagged]

>Name a president of the United States (or anywhere, why limit it?) and I'll provide you with a corruption scandal that either they were linked to or happened during their tenancy.

How about I throw it back at you and ask you to name a single former President who has been involved in as many deeply serious scandals as Trump?

Can you even identify any scandals involving a Democrat President that even begin to approach the seriousness of the Stormy Daniels affair, the Ukraine affair, his ties to Russia and the assistance his campaign received from Putin, or any of the literally hundreds of major acts of corruption that have taken place under his watch and often at his explicit direction?

Both sides are not the same. No President in history has ever been as openly and completely corrupt as Trump, no political party has ever demonstrated such contempt for the rule of law and the Constitution. This is not business as usual.


the Stormy Daniels affair isn't serious, but if it is, little is known about it. A lot more is know about the Monica Lewinsky affair - I think if the same thing happened in this era it would be treated differently, at the very least the power differential between a POTUS and his aide would might dispel the notion of a simple "affair". Bill still travels with Hillary, and does tours, shaking hands with the fans.

Trumps "ties to Russia" are unproven, resources where spent on investigating it but produced very little (I notice "assistance his campaign received from Putin" could describe both Russian election meddling, and collusion, but in the context of presidential corruption only collusion matters - which is unproven).

Using "seriousness" as a metric needs to be grounded by how proven an allegation is, or else the most extreme allegation automatically wins.

I'm undecided how important the Ukraine affair is. Dem rhetoric "asking a foreign power.." has to be balanced with my own reckoning of the seriousness of things, and I'm just as suspicious the lack of noise around Hunter Biden, or FBI bias which I feel is as important, but under-highlighted because the dems generally control the narrative.

> literally hundreds of major acts of corruption

> no political party has ever demonstrated such contempt for the rule of law and the Constitution

according to who? The press? People constantly fight over interpretations of the constitution, "contempt" always follows from "my particular interpretation [of the constitution]", and I see a lot of contempt of law on the dem side wrt rules considered "unjust" - Do Sanctuary cities follow rule of law?

What about taking removal (mandatory buy-back) of arms? https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2019/10/15/beto-orou...

Trying to twist legal definitions to force state consent for the Equal Rights Amendment (we can extend the time window to allow votes past the deadline, but you can't change your vote if the electorate no longer vote the same as they did in the original window).

Was Trump responsible for putting "children in cages"? Was Obama? https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/obama-build-cages-immigran...


Russian oligarchs are the only ones willing to front the money for Trump's projects because his credit is so bad. You think they aren't getting something in return?


> How about I throw it back at you and ask you to name a single former President who has been involved in as many deeply serious scandals as Trump?

Firstly, I would be cautious in an era of big government and vastly more media than previous governments in case of falling prey to the diagnosis fallacy. Regardless, yes, I could.

> Can you even identify any scandals involving a Democrat President that even begin to approach the seriousness of the Stormy Daniels affair, the Ukraine affair, his ties to Russia and the assistance his campaign received from Putin, or any of the literally hundreds of major acts of corruption that have taken place under his watch and often at his explicit direction?

That's easy, Bill Clinton.

> the Stormy Daniels affair

Monica Lewinsky, and that was a far bigger scandal

> the Ukraine affair

Operation Infinite Reach, a war crime if you ask me (and many others). Has Trump committed any war crimes? Bombed any pharmaceutical facilities that produce medicines for some of the most deprived and needy people on the planet?

> his ties to Russia

I can't believe people are still into this one, but lets go for White Water for that one.

> any of the literally hundreds of major acts of corruption

If we're going for rhetoric instead of anything substantial then Christopher Hitchens will always win, though this is one of his more mundane descriptions: "a crooked President and a corrupt and reactionary administration"

I'm old enough to remember before Trump, and I struggle to remember an American president who wasn't mired in scandal, but "Trump bad" must mean it was all nothing much.



That wasn't a response. The OP didn't say to find evidence of greater than zero scandals during the Obama administration.


Ok, I'll bite. Obama


The huge number of people killed in drone attacks[1], including a 16 year old US citizen[2] (and the subsequent killing of his younger sister, also reprehensible).

Is killing people in other countries like that not scandalous? I thought it was terrible under Bush Jr so I've no idea how I'm supposed to give Obama a pass.

So, again, I have this president and his 2 predecessors (do I really need to go over Bush Jr?) and in another comment the 3rd predecessor, Clinton, all embroilled in scandals and reprehensible behaviour. I can go on.

[1] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-preside... [2] https://theintercept.com/2017/01/30/obama-killed-a-16-year-o...

ArnoVW 36 days ago [flagged]

One thing I never understood, how drone attacks were a scandal. Yes, he ordered the killing of people. And the legality of these killings is indeed arguable, in the sense that the legality of the whole war is arguable. But I don't see huge protest marches against those wars.

Yes, sometimes the missile strike killed the wrong people. Again, horrible. But do people really think that bomb strikes performed by other presidents killed only "bad guys"? If anything, my interpretation of the situation is that Obama was more transparent than previous administrations, and that drones and drone strikes have reduced the human cost. Both through precision, but also because it is "better" to kill the leader in his bed, than his 50 soldiers in a gun fight.

No-one objected when he ordered a team of soldiers to fly in and kill Bin Laden, why does it become a scandal if you do the same thing with a missle? For those that say "but it was Bin Laden", as the military personnel responsible for the strike explained at the time, they flew missions like that every week.

Would it have been better if Obama had lauched indiscriminative airstrikes on anonymous coordinates, with no camera footage and analysis? Just "we killed 3 bad guys yesterday"?

As an aside, your original statement was that all presidents were involvd in a corruption scandal.


Nobody remembers that 100,000+ civilians have been killed in Iraq. Most not by drone. The press conveniently looked the other way.


> Is killing people in other countries like that not scandalous?

I point out you specifically said you'd point out a corruption scandal. Your cited use of force may be scandalous or even a war crime, but it's a stretch to call it 'corrupt'.


That's classic whataboutism. To say that "every president has corruption scandals" is to ignore the scale, depth, and sheer incompetence in commission of corrupt activities in the current administration.

Even Nixon knew that once they had the tapes admitting to a crime, he was sunk. Trump just says it right into the microphone on television.


> That's classic whataboutism

No, whataboutism would be to deflect from criticism. I am putting the correct perspective on an absurd statement by showing that it is not anomalous. They're two quite different things.


This is a problem that pervades all forms of organisational stewardship. It's true for ICANN, it's true for all forms of national government, it's even true for ivy league universities. Eventually they all end up being run in the interests of the currently elected administration rather than the principles and long-term interests of the organisation.

It's impossible to completely fix, but there are a few ways to slow down the rot, for example:

1. Require extreme transparency (where possible)

2. Make decision-making difficult enough that everyone complains about how slow and indecisive the body is

3. Structure the administrators' roles and remuneration so that they have long term rather than short term financial incentives.

4. Don't offer large salaries to anyone. The role shouldn't attract people who care about salaries, even if it means you don't attract the "best talent". That "best talent" was probably going to wreck the organisation anyway.


>4. Don't offer large salaries to anyone. The role shouldn't attract people who care about salaries, even if it means you don't attract the "best talent". That "best talent" was probably going to wreck the organisation anyway.

Is this necessarily the right move? I have a vague recollection of reading about Singapore and their approach to attaining top talent to the public sector with high wages. I could be totally wrong!


Yeah, I'd argue for the opposite (and often do, in relation to increasing politician's pay).

You want people who don't need to play the game and buddy up to people if they want to improve their lot. You don't want people who see the role as a stepping stone to "better things".


Indeed, entering into a political space is a very expensive gamble and requires significant investment before one could obtain a return that is commensurate. If politicians do not have a way to obtain a return for their risk that puts them in the public's trust, then the profession will be filled with those who take the risk because they seek private reward.


Politicians are easy—reward them with a generous pension rather than a generous salary. Bonus points if part of that pension can be inversely tied to future private income.


I think it's the right move. It worked really well in academia in its hay days (1950-1990):

1. High bar to get a job.

2. Modest, but livable salary.

3. Long-term job stability.

This guarantees you don't really need to worry about money (unless you're super-greedy), but at the same time, no one was in it for the money. It broke when elite university compensation went astronomical ($1 million plus at the top-end), and job stability went away (no reasonable paths to tenure, and lots of adjunct / postdoc / research scientists / etc. positions).

With competition, the easiest way to land a tenured job is to lie and cheat. With high compensation, there are all the wrong reasons to do it. As a result, several elite schools are now cesspools of corruptions, academic misconduct, and (most legal but unethical) embezzlement.

We should go back to where:

* Jobs are stable

* Salaries are modest, but cover food+housing+basic essentials

* Benefits are strong

I'd say something similar is true for other not-for-profits. There are tons of exceptionally smart, competent, caring people who want jobs which provide meaning and have a positive impact on the world. To take them, they want to be able to feed their families. To stay there, you don't need to guarantee high income, so much as high stability.


There needs to be a difference between the stewardship roles and the doer/self-interests roles. You can pay the doer, but the stewards are ideally volunteers who care about the mission.

That this decision was made in the first place, and that ICANN took so long to withhold consent, shows that there are not enough stewards in either organization.


The problem was that oversight roles where hamstrung deliberately by the executive (doers)

Holding meetings in far flung and hard to get to places was one tactic


The actual problem is that the oversight roles didn’t immediately dismiss the executive when they pulled these tricks.


Your not wrong you need a strong chair and a commitment to good governance - I suspect there where a lot of buggins turn appointees with no experience in holding an executive to account.


Exactly right.


Singapore has ways to force people to be socially responsible.


A few suggestions:

- Define the long-term goals of an organisation explicitly.

- Interpret these narrowly.

- Give stakeholders a vote, both in the election of officials and on certain topics.

I would argue that there exist (hundreds of) thousands of usually small, non-profit organisations that are run pretty efficiently. I think of pretty much all of the social and sport clubs for adults and kids I know of. A lot of interpersonal drama, but also countless of volunteers and people just working for their local community organised by their hobbies. So there's something about scale and dissociation with the original goals going on.


I would have thought all of those points would apply to ICANN. The issue isn't having clearly defined goals, the issue is that for some value of N, the Nth administration of an organisation eventually behave like exploiters rather than stewards. They don't care about your silly words.


I’m curious if a law as code approach code help? Define bylaws publicly with a good specification. Decisions could be validated against the specifications. The checker’s consequences could be setup to be immediate and binding as the system matures.


So what factors influence N? Because I point out (perhaps trivial, but a lot of our social life is organised that way) organisations where N-->Inf.


> 4. Don't offer large salaries to anyone. The role shouldn't attract people who care about salaries, even if it means you don't attract the "best talent". That "best talent" was probably going to wreck the organisation anyway.

This seems counterproductive to me. If you don't pay people enough that they're worried about losing the position then they're incentivized to try and monetize whatever power they have, leading to corruption.


>> 4. Don't offer large salaries to anyone. The role shouldn't attract people who care about salaries, even if it means you don't attract the "best talent". That "best talent" was probably going to wreck the organisation anyway.

> This seems counterproductive to me. If you don't pay people enough that they're worried about losing the position then they're incentivized to try and monetize whatever power they have, leading to corruption.

No, I think the idea is to offer something comfortable but not so large salary would attract people by itslef. You want to discourage the people who "try and monetize whatever power they have" from joining, and reduce the barriers to joining for people who aren't driven by greed.


And if you offer too much, people are incentivized to get the job for money, rather than because they want to do good.

Aligning incentives with goals is wise, but it's hard to do perfectly. Humans are still human.


There are a lot of jobs with high salaries out there, and most jobs have sufficient barrier to entry that you have to come to the table with something beyond "I'd like some money please".

I don't know, it just doesn't feel like there's a ton of risk of "non-profit board member" becoming the next gold-rush degree track.


it is the classical principal-agent dilemma that we face in society since the point in time we started delegating individual tasks to individuals, for any individual will carry the seeds of greed and egoism in it in varying degrees. thus there will always be a conflict of interest for evolutionary reasons.

over the millenia we've developed mechanisms like the division of power (checks & balances) for governments and the board system for corporations.

what I want to say with this is that if organizational stewardship is not working, it's most likely a flaw in the structure of the system (and/or the processes), and my instinct would tell me to investigate if the right amount & scrutiny in terms of checks & balances is in place.


I think your reversing causality here, expecting that check and balances will provide the guidance for people not to behave selfish. People will always find a way to rig the system in their favor and more or other rules in the division of power is going to result eventually in the same outcome.

I think we should investigate the scope of power instead of your proposed scale of power.


That’s “Pournelle's iron law of bureaucracy”:

“In any bureaucracy, the people devoted to the benefit of the bureaucracy itself always get in control and those dedicated to the goals the bureaucracy is supposed to accomplish have less and less influence, and sometimes are eliminated entirely.”


ICANN has been corrupt since John Postel died in 1998. Since then it has been run by lawyers in complete secrecy with their main goal being to maximize the rents they can squeeze out of DNS. People have been begging the California Attorney General to investigate ICANN's many corruptions for two decades now, it would be a shame if ICANN is able to use this high visibility decision to avoid scrutiny of it's previous criminal decision to allow unlimited price increases on .org.


> Since then it has been run by lawyers in complete secrecy

It seems that HN wants to help them with that. There isn't a single name in this entire thread.

Why aren't we talking about the board members here? Why aren't we using their real names so that they can be personally held responsible for their decisions?


https://www.internetsociety.org/board-of-trustees/

Andrew Sullivan is the guy you want, though. He's the one pushing this deal.


Every single board member has to go. Every single one of them. At this point, it would be easier to just transfer over all the assets incl the PIR to an organization that is more worthy of our trust, such as the EFF.

> It was for this reason that the board voted unanimously to approve the deal (aside from one trustee who is recused from PIR matters).

https://www.internetsociety.org/blog/2019/12/the-sale-of-pir...


> At this point, it would be easier to just transfer over all the assets incl the PIR to an organization that is more worthy of our trust, such as the EFF.

That would certainly work in the short term.

In the long term however, wouldn't the EFF become a magnet for the types of people currently populating the ICANN board? They see that there is an opportunity there. So I worry that the long term effect would be to ruin the EFF as it is slowly overrun by opportunist that do not care about the core mission.

Not sure what a good long term solution is however.


It would become a magnet. However, given the broader membership base and their history, I think it would be harder to take over something like the EFF or e.g. the mozilla Foundation (and before you yell "browser maker, conflict of interest" at me, I have a .dev domain to sell to you...).

The ISOC, while they proudly proclaim 67K members, is an organization with largely silent/inactive members (aside from lobbyists), most of whom probably forgot by now that they are members at all - or at least that's what it seems to be from my perspective.

The EFF (or even mozilla) on the other hand have more active members, and it would be harder to do a (slow-moving) hostile takeover. Of course, everything can be undermined and taken over, as the ISOC shows. However, the ISOC seems "burned" at this point where it would be extremely hard to rebuild and recover, while the EFF e.g. is still functional and it would be easier to keep it from deteriorating in the first place than trying to undo damage already done.


>and before you yell "browser maker, conflict of interest" at me, I have a .dev domain to sell to you...

I was about to start ranting about Google, but it appears that they are now allowing public .dev registrations through registrars. I don't know when that changed.


That’s why it needs to be the CCOR. It’s a cooperative which is perfect.


Some surprising names on that list. Mike Godwin?



Complete sellout and a dick.


Vint Cerf. Mike Godwin. Throw their names in too. They pushed for this deal. You can read Mike's shitty argument for how selling it off would be the 'real way' to save dot org. http://www.circleid.com/posts/20200114_here_is_how_we_can_tr...

It's a poorly reasoned piece where he won't even accept basic facts when called out on them.


This guy went from being the CEO of an underwear company (that I love) to an ICANN board member in 2018, interesting.


The Internet Society has proven itself to be an untrustworthy steward of .org by even contemplating this now derailed sale. How can .org be put under control of a non-profit public benefit corporation with a mission restricted solely to running the gTLD?


> How can .org be put under control of a non-profit public benefit corporation with a mission restricted solely to running the gTLD?

The Cooperative Corporation of dot-org Registrants (CCOR)

https://www.ccor.org

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22902032


I was thinking the same. This very act shows a severe lack of judgment in stewardship. ICANN should find another more deserving, more trustworthy organization to oversee .org.


ISOC is also over other important things including ietf.

Instead of moving .org. There need to be some accountiblty and/or leadership change inside of ISOC


We'll deal with that later. Right now, ISOC needs weakening. We need to shift .org over to https://www.ccor.org/


So, will they announce selling IETF to Elsevier tomorrow?


Are there any other TLDs that are under the control of a non-profit in this way?


Many of the ccTLDs are. I don't know about the gTLDs.


What's the likelihood there'll still be a state investigation or a court case about this? What I'd love to see is the California AG pierce the anonymous ownership structure of Ethos Capital so we can see who really is behind it.

The way this sailed through, it had to have insider influence. How dod this deal glide through ICANN (prior to its announcement)? Who made the decision to approve it? What paper trail is there?

As much as I'm glad this deal was killed, we shouldn't stop here. Let's weed out and hold to account the weak, inept and corrupt who allowed this to go this far.


If a guilty party has to be identified, it will be, not necessarily the correct one. Malicious agents will just be more careful next time as they have more resources than anyone willing to look into this.

The problem is systemic.


The fact that the central authority made the right call in this instance doesn’t ultimately mean that the central authority isn’t still dangerous.

I hope this serves as a wake-up call to everyone who got scared by this.


It's not as if there haven't been many attempts at distributed dns. Zooko's Triangle [1] is one hurdle. Namecoin and related block chain technologies have similar drawbacks to Bitcoins when it comes to transaction volume.

There are also legitimate concerns with many distributed techniques in terms of domain squatting that need to be addressed.

I'm not trying to discourage you from creating your own system to try to solve these issues, or support one you think is close. I do find it a bit insulting that you just seem to assume that this problem has never been tackled before.

[1] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zooko%27s_triangle


The solutions are hard, because they are social and political, not purely technical.

I’m simply serving as a reminder that they’re important despite being hard, and that we should not be dissuaded by their difficulty: the danger is real.

> I do find it a bit insulting that you just seem to assume that this problem has never been tackled before.

Please try to assume good faith before you assume bad faith.


If you're going to make people remember and type a cryptographic value, you've missed the whole reason DNS came to be: to provide memorable names.

I'd argue that building a system that a computer illiterate person can use is a technical challenge. it's a constraint on the design and architecture of the system.


There's other ways to do distributed DNS, I'm sure, than a cryptographic hash. I haven't looked into it much, but "Handshake" is a new distributed DNS system that supposedly works very well. I used to be averse to that idea, but this .org issue clearly shows we cannot trust icann much longer.


> I'm sure, than a cryptographic hash. I haven't looked into it much

Why are you sure if you don't know?

Anyway, I mentioned some on my original post. There are ways, but so far there have been tradeoffs in terms of ease of gaming or transaction volume. Blockchains aren't magic and have their own trade offs. That said I'm always interested to read about new systems working to mitigate those.

Reading only a little about handshake, I haven't yet seen anything that nudges me otherwise. Blockchains also make having light clients very difficult or otherwise they need to use another service tondo the heavy lifting. There are some references that handshake doesn't, so I'm interested to read further.

This part from https://handshake.org/files/handshake.txt does concern me, though:

> The Handshake project aims to distribute around 70% of the coin supply to open source developers, projects, and non-profits without any contractual expectation of work by the individual free and open source developers.


I'm sure because handshake is such a system and there are many ways to skin a cat, and it's not a problem that I'd classify as 'hard' in a technical sense, such as useful quantum computing or terraforming Mars which both may or may not be possible. The hard part here is getting people to use it, the network effects.

I do agree with what you wrote about the tradeoffs with the current solutions, but those are tractable problems, I believe.


Central authorities are the worst form of governance, except for all the others.


Actually some of the others are just objectively better. Like local authorities which can adapt rules to local conditions and give people the option to exit and go somewhere else if the local rules are sufficiently outside what they find reasonable.

It's like asking whether you'd prefer your landlord to have a national monopoly on land. (No.)


So you're saying DNS registration should work more like how living in a physical place works? Well, where I live,

- My landlord and my city are both subject to laws from a national government, and if they're egregiously misbehaving, the national government can step in, but they usually don't.

- If I switch landlords, let alone cities, my address changes.

- I can choose a landlord and to a lesser extent a city by reputation, but I might end up choosing a city because it's where I want to be for business etc. reasons, even if I disagree with its leadership choices

- I have limited ability to influence my city's decision-making and essentially no ability to influence my nation's decision-making, but it's not unheard of.

Which all seems very similar to having a choice of registrar, limited choice of TLD/registry, no choice in ICANN, the theoretical (and occasionally practical, as in this case) ability to influence ICANN, and the ability to change registrars and TLDs if I like - as long as I'm okay changing addresses.


> my landlord and my city are both subject to laws from a national government, and if they're egregiously misbehaving, the national government can step in, but they usually don't

On the other hand, your city is also subject to its constituents, who care more about what happens there than people in the nation's capital do, so you already have a mechanism to hold them to account when they misbehave. (And the city has jurisdiction over the local landlords.)

Meanwhile, what do you do if the national government is doing something that ruins your life, but there aren't enough similarly situated people to get them to stop? If it was only a city you could at least move.

> if I switch landlords, let alone cities, my address changes

This is costly. It could still be less costly than having nowhere to hide from policies that cause you significant harm, which makes the availability of that option very valuable.

> I can choose a landlord and to a lesser extent a city by reputation, but I might end up choosing a city because it's where I want to be for business etc. reasons, even if I disagree with its leadership choices

It's all trade offs. If you really want to be there for business reasons and mildly dislike their policies then you might go there anyway. If there are minor business reasons they're preferable but their policies make your life unlivable you might go somewhere else. This is still better than having the unlivable policies imposed nationally, whereupon you would choose your location for business reasons (because the ruinous policy is everywhere), but still have a worse life than having to move to avoid bad policies, because then you'd at least have actually avoided them.

> I have limited ability to influence my city's decision-making and essentially no ability to influence my nation's decision-making, but it's not unheard of

It's not a binary matter of impossibility, it's a matter of difficulty level. Getting your city to do something is a lot easier than getting your whole country to do it, and they're more likely to be receptive to local problems because a larger percentage of their constituents are affected by them.

> Which all seems very similar to having a choice of registrar, limited choice of TLD/registry, no choice in ICANN, the theoretical (and practical, in this case) ability to influence ICANN, and the ability to change registrars and TLDs if I like.

It's not the wrong analogy, the question is how much (if any) of the authority actually has to be in ICANN. You could in theory give them no power at all, or have them not exist, and rest control of each gTLD entirely with its respective registrar.

I could even turn it around and say that the problem here is that the .org registry is itself too centralized and once it delegates a name to someone it should cease to be under the registrar's control and become permanently under the control of the domain owner, so that who owns .org would only matter to new registrants and not existing ones who already have their delegations.


I agree that all of these things are bad - my point is that it's the worst system except for all the others.

Neither of your proposed replacement systems seem like they'd make things overall better with regards to the actual concerns of .org domain name owners.


I don't think you made your point at all.

> My landlord and my city are both subject to laws from a national government, and if they're egregiously misbehaving, the national government can step in, but they usually don't.

It looks like a bait-and-switch by trying to perform some comparison to a non-centralized authority while invoking it (using the odd "national government" phrase) in the same breath.


I'm responding to this specific claim:

> The fact that the central authority made the right call in this instance doesn’t ultimately mean that the central authority isn’t still dangerous.

> I hope this serves as a wake-up call to everyone who got scared by this.

In this comment, "central authority" means ICANN, who has oversight over registry operations, not the .org registry themselves.

I am reading this comment as saying that the very idea of having a centralized authority like ICANN is dangerous and we need something else (like a blockchain or whatever). I am claiming that it's fine because the alternatives are all worse.

The next comment tried to say, well, in the case of physical housing, your landlord or city doesn't have total control. But the landlord or city is not in the place of the "central authority" here - they are analogous to a registrar or registry. In the same way that my national government is flawed but better than not having one, ICANN is flawed but better than not having it.


Well, there really is a national monopoly on land. There is no "ownership" natural to the world, just the social contract between the people and their government ensuring rule of law, protection of rights, etc.


Oh yeah, balkanized local government has worked so well for the bay area.


Fortunately it's also what allows you to move somewhere else where it works much better.

Having different problems in different places is actually preferable to having the same problems everywhere, because different problems affect different people differently. It gives people choice. If you don't like San Francisco, move to Austin, or New York, or Miami. Whereas if a central authority makes a rule you can't live under there is nowhere to hide.

And even if you stay where you are, it gives you more of a voice, because you aren't being diluted by a constituency so large you can never be heard.


> Fortunately it's also what allows you to move somewhere else where it works much better.

You mean like moving from .org domain to something else?

The whole point is that certain resources (like gTLD) are global in nature.


> You mean like moving from .org domain to something else?

Consider the alternative -- corruption at ICANN where they sell the root to a private company. Then what are you going to do, move from DNS whatsoever?

> The whole point is that certain resources (like gTLD) are global in nature.

It's only "global" in the sense that its jurisdictional boundaries are administrative rather than regional. The .org gTLD is operated by different people than the .com gTLD.


But .org has a semantic monopoly on “gTLD for NGOs”. If I want to start a new non profit I want a .org, not a .com. One is not an alternative for the other.


That's in fact my exact point. It doesn't let you move somewhere else because local governments have set themselves up to only be accountable to a small group of people that already live in the city. (AKA fuck you, I got mine)

If housing costs were lower, more people would be able to move to the bay area and take advantage of the incredible wealth creation and job opportunities available.

I wouldn't be shocked if the bay areas housing policies were responsible for the loss of 1 percent of GDP growth every year in this county.


Local authority is still centralized wrt. a local problem :).

It's always nice to have options by being able to deal with multiple people... except when a given issue becomes a tragedy of the commons or some other kind of coordination problem, at which point you really want to have a single superior authority above the ones you were dealing with. This applies recursively. So you want to have one city authority, but many cities; one county authority, but many counties; one state authority, but many states; one country authority, but many countries...


Exactly. Organizations shouldn’t be governed by ORG who in turn shouldn’t be governed by ICANN. This action thoroughly makes clear that ICANN controls DNS.

Alternatives like Handshake [1] move the root zone to a blockchain as a root of trust avoiding any centralized control and is currently used by many [2].

[1] https://handshake.org

[2] https://dns.live


As someone who was really involved with this very early and was cited in the AG's letter (quite proud of that), I wanted to think and reflect about it for a moment. And talk about what's still happening and what it means: https://reviewsignal.com/blog/2020/05/01/reflecting-on-org-s...


It's clearly time to demand that control of .org ownership be removed from Internet Society, right? Should we start moving towards disbanding ICANN and moving DNS control to some other entity? Internet Society has zero credibility now, and depending on how they handle the fallout from this, ICANN's credibility is likely to follow.



It's so creepy how they always spin these sort of decisions.

> This decision will suffocate innovation and deter future investment in the domain industry.

I'm sure we'll really miss the lack of innovation in registering a damn domain name.


Erik Brooks at Donuts and Fadi's only innovation was exploiting the DNS to make more money by opening up new gTLDs and increasing prices. That's what we stopped today. Good job.


> Today’s action opens the door for ICANN to unilaterally reject future transfer requests based on agenda-driven pressure by outside parties.

Awww shucks. They're pissed ICANN realised they might not get away with this one so played it safe this time around.


Great news! Now they should find new stewards for .org, since PIR/ISOC have shown they cannot be trusted to do the right thing.


I've been confused following this story... so which entities have the ultimate power/responsibility to authorize/veto this move? Every time I think the story is finalized, there seems to be a new twist.


Now they need to move on to the next problem: Leadership an governance that allowed this whole mess to happen in the first place. Without that, there's no reason the same players involved can't just pay lip service to concerns, come up with an equivalent proposal, and try this again.


I am incredibly surprised to see this good news. Finally an organisation made a decision that was in the public interest. Hopefully more decisions like this can be made in the future.


Wait a ~year, move non-profit out of California/USA, try again.


I don't really understand this too well but I suppose the question I'd have from what I've read is who was going to get the $360 million? Cui bono?


The Internet Society (ISOC) would get the 1.135 billion dollars, of which, $360 million would be debt piled onto PIR which was going to be sold to Ethos Capital who nobody knows where the money is coming from and has a murky corporate structure being run by ICANN insiders who claims to have the non profit world's best interests at heart and it's not all about profit.


thanks for the information


This blocked the sale of the .org registry - in effect the sale was an extinction level event for the registry - we are all glad it was blcoked and one hopes they will not try a backassward method to gain the sale. Think of it, a $360,000,000 debt, let's say at a 10% rate to some friends = $36,000,000 interest force sucked from the domain every year at the least and over 10 years another $36,000,000 annually (the interest will decline linearly). Add to that salaries of the god-like high order people managing it - all worth at least 1-2 million a year and the servers, techs etc. = on the order of $100,000,000 a year. All this on the back of the ~~10 million .org name holders all for nothing another $10 added on. The usual business must continue as a non profit it was $12 per year for a domain, so this will now go to $22.00. it nearly doubles the cost and economics tells us that sales will halve. So now we have 5 million under the yoke of $100 million in costs = $20 each + the $12 = $32.00 and a further decrease. Sure some will pay, many will say nowego away now. As they say, an ELE has been dodged - stay alert for version 2...


Victory! This is an awesome news, and a very nice one to wake up to on the 1st of May ;).


And sometimes the good guys win!

I expect that the fallout from this will also be that the current board of ISOC gets replaced. But maybe that's too much to hope for.


Sadly only sometimes.


I hold .org domains, and I felt somewhat annoyed I wasn't consulted as a decisive stakeholder by ISOC, and I also consider myself an ISOC member and have worked with these people on and off. I know these people from email lists, from f2f at IETF, from other policy meetings. I just didn't expect them to do this.

I found the lack of engagement prior to the transaction truly shocking. I understand some of the reasons, even if I disagree with them: I think the ISOC board did not breach the law. But I do think they broke an implicit social contract.

The thing is: there is a downside. This was going to create a large abiding fund for ISOC. It was going to create something of real world value. Alibeit at the expense of some principle but there is now a consequence, something which might have been good won't happen directly, or as quickly.

I also think its premature to assume some kind of sale or change in PIR/.org will not actually still happen: they just have to do more work. And, probably, for lower $value since its no longer as simple. (I don't think in the current economic climate the price will be as good)


> The thing is: there is a downside. This was going to create a large abiding fund for ISOC. It was going to create something of real world value. Alibeit at the expense of some principle but there is now a consequence, something which might have been good won't happen directly, or as quickly.

This was their argument the whole time, but it seems incredibly weak. The money from the sale was presumably the net present value of the future domain revenue (minus whatever losses from the apparent self-dealing). If they were going to keep it as an endowment and only spend the interest so that it wouldn't run out over time then it wouldn't be anything more than the revenue they already had.

Whereas if they were going to spend it all at once then it seems a lot like mortgaging the future. On top of that, if they really wanted to do that then they didn't need to sell the registry -- just take out a loan. Interest rates are super low right now.

If the thing they wanted to do with the money wasn't so pressing that it could justify borrowing money to do it immediately instead of letting the money come in over time then it couldn't have been so pressing as to justify the sale either.


You're completely correct that it was going to be NPV neutral and an endowment. But the structural independence that ISOC would then have had, and the freedom from constraints of income tied to a service delivery changes how you plan and what kind of long-term plans you can make.

So I sort-of agree and disagree. It wasn't really a huge windfall outcome, viewed as a perpetuating fund. But it was a huge structural change for ISOC, and very possibly the IETF too.


You make it sound like they're in some kind of risky and unpredictable business not conducive to long-term planning.


I think you're right to suggest the actual income from PIR was predictable. But it was also unusual. Deriving so much money from a single place imperils tax status as a 501(c) I am told. perhaps this wasn't a problem for them. (I've never been aware of the board and its finance decisions)

I was led to believe moving to a trust with oversight of a fund is different, and more beneficial as a perpetuating entity. And, Org and PIR relates to the status of Verisign and COM and also places ISOC in a relationship with ICANN which I suspect was irksome, because in so many other senses ISOC felt it was not subject to ICANN direction but actually one of the peer-set.

If I had been on the board, and a well structured proposal had been put to me to do this, I truly don't know what I would have said. My instinct is: this should be discussed publicly and we should get community consensus, but I could imagine other pressures/tensions emerged.


> Deriving so much money from a single place imperils tax status ... I am told.

Interesting. Who's telling you that?


Read up on 'unrelated business income' or UBIT and 501


IIRC someone in a previous post here about this, someone did the math and found that, based on .org revenues, ISOC would make the intended sale price in something on the order of 10 years. It's remarkably short-sighted to sell a cash cow like that just to get some money in-hand sooner.


I too would have favoured setting up the endowment by investment over the longer term: the kind of approach which could have been discussed in a community-consensus way.

It speaks to me, that ISOC decided not to explore that and then went single-buyer, NDA+Lawyers.


Didn't they bring in a new management team from the for-profit world who talked up expanding into major new roles? If your leaders have a mindset shaped by puffing up stock prices every quarter you tend to be interested in big, sweeping changes even if they don't make much sense long-term.


It's more insidious than that because they could have built a sizeable endowment from their past income. None of which seems to be accounted for.


ISOC is an unacceptable steward. Time to take .org away from them.


Wow. Unexpected. Didn’t know we could still have nice things.


Hopefully this we'll hear of the .ORG sale, and it can be filed under "risky investment averted"

Wonder if there's an appeals process in place.


The writing was on the wall a few months ago but still it's nice to see that this travesty has finally been given the boot.


Yes!

.org domain names are safe from the corporate raider sharks

for now


"for now" being key. Nothing like this is ever fixed.


Temporary. Won't last cause there's no laws stopping them. This is one of the only first and there will many more attempts to privatize the internet.


I support this but how does the State of California have standing?


‘ICANN received the letter last week, and is fully cooperating with the Attorney General's request for information. ICANN is subject to regulation by the CA-AGO, which is responsible for supervising charitable organizations in California. ICANN is a California public benefit, nonprofit corporation. ICANN and PIR have agreements in place regarding PIR's operation of the .ORG registry and other registries (PIR Registry Agreements).’

https://www.icann.org/news/announcement-2020-01-30-en


The original letter [1] explains it. In short, ICANN is a California nonprofit public benefit corporation. At least in theory, there was a possibility that for ICANN to approve the sale would violate the public benefit obligations set out in its bylaws, and the state Attorney General has the power to investigate that.

[1] https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/correspondence/becerra...


ICANN is incorporated in California, has their headquarters there, and does significant business. Any of the three would be sufficient, but the incorporation was called out.


Wow, was a sad day when I first read this was happening, cant believe it, good things can still happen. Awesome!


ICANN has lost its credibility.


I think the comments section is closed on the ICANN's blog page.


The ringwraiths will be back, but for now the shire is safe.


Cause it’s the finish of icann’s credibility if they do.


Thanks to anyone who helped! That's great.


overwhelming relief they "won" this one, deep grief in the knowledge there is no way the leeches give up on it.


They did so because public outrage. There's nothing to guarantee they won't try it again or other similar maneuvers.

The gist is the DNS model is broken.


Bravo!


This is a big win, but do not forget Google is in the board of ICANN.


As someone who hasn't read much on this, why is selling the .org registry to a for profit company bad? My understanding is that .com and others are held by for profit companies. What other issues were there?


As in previous discussions on this, some people seem to have some strange utopian misconceptions about .ORG.

Likewise whoever wrote this false statement on Wikipedia: "The domain [sic] was originally intended for non-profit entities, but this restriction was removed in August 2019."

In fact registration under .ORG has been unrestricted for most of its existence, even before it was taken over by PIR around 20 years ago.

The complaints about potential price rises are also totally bizarre when .ORG has been for years one of the most overpriced and price hiked extensions, significantly more expensive than .COM, and popular country code TLDs like .uk, .nl, .de.

The "non-profit" aspect is a total red herring.


.org has been the defacto home of non profits on the internet for decades. PIR being awarded the contract was in no small way because of their non profit nature. Pretending otherwise is being intentionally misleading.

.ORG has been more expensive than .COM lately because of price increases and the fact ICANN uncapped them was a major concern. Which is what sparked this whole saga, and opportunity for an uncapped monopoly which would disproportionately affect non profit users of the internet.

The non profit aspect plays a major role in this.


Please don't throw out accusations of being "intentionally misleading" just because you don't accept or understand 100% factual information that's been posted.

Fact: .ORG - like virtually every other extension - has been the home of anyone who wants to register it for decades (two), even prior to the establishment of PIR in 2003.

It was specifically intended for non-profits a generation ago, for a relatively brief 10-15 year period, during most of which relatively few people were online, relatively few websites existed and relatively few .ORGs were registered.

For the past 20 years, a period when millions of .ORGs have been registered, there has been nothing special about .ORG other than its grossly inflating price, which has been continuously jacked up for more than a decade.

Any non-profit genuinely concerned about watching the pennies would have shifted to a different extension years ago, but is it supposed to be a comfort for .ORG owners who don't want to give up a name (like myself), that the people screwing us over call themselves "not-for-profit"?

Who cares who's doing it, other than the people suddenly complaining because a for profit company might become involved in a money printing exercise.


The company trying to buy .org was planning to raise prices.

(You could have googled this.)


I did find some complaints back to last year, but there were lots of "issues". Why is raising prices bad. How does that warrant preventing this sale?

It's not like .org lives in a bubble. There are many other TLDs that they have to compete with on price.


They don't compete on price for renewals when you own one of the 10 million existing domains.


Because it’s not just any TLD. It’s one of the very few special ones that has a very clearly defined origination and governance (well it did for the first decade or so at least).

Capitalism + the underpinnings of the Internet don’t exactly play well together (hence the need for clearly defined net neutrality codified by law). And arbitrarily raising prices on already existing domains registered by people and non-profits who bought in when there were rules in place about such prices is actually wrong.


Several board members and executives and ex-executives (we know some, but not all, because of the opaque corporate structure of the PE firm, and the _redacting_ of board minutes of ICANN) were behind the plan, and the equity firm, i.e. "We run ICANN as a non-profit, often elected to board positions. We've hatched a plan where we are going to take it private, run by a few of us, and make money from it. We can do this because we control the voting."




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