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How We Saved Dot Org (eff.org)
1187 points by thomasahle 11 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 151 comments



Another great win for the EFF. We shouldn't forget how much time and effort fighting this kind of thing takes, and we are very lucky to have an organization who's willing to put in the legwork from which all of us are huge beneficiaries. (Edit: just donated.)

I guess it was implied by the article, but wasn't perfectly clear to me: does this mean that .org just stays with its current holders, ISOC? (Internet Society)

As much as ICANN and Ethos Capital acted maliciously in this whole debacle, it's very possible that the most malicious actor of all was ISOC. In 2002 they were granted the management of a public good (the .org registry), with the idea that they'd administrate it responsibly and fairly. In return, they were well compensated as they managed .org registrations over all these years, which is more or less a license to print money.

However, it's obvious with this attempted sales that ISOC never considered themselves to be a higher-minded steward doing anything for the greater good. To them, .org was an asset to be pumped and dumped at the first, best offer that came along. They were well aware that Ethos had plans to turn .org into a major profit center with a captive audience of all existing .org holders, to the detriment of tens of thousands of non-profits (and many others) worldwide, and enthusiastically agreed to the plan anyway. It was money in their pocket, and the money was good.

What would it take for the ICANN to claw back the .org registry and grant it to a more ethical caretaker? (CCOR for example [1].) It seems to me that "easy come, easy go" is a perfect ethos for this situation, and the ISOC shouldn't be allowed to take another dime from .org.

---

[1] https://www.ccor.org/


I’m literally wearing (for the first time, by coincidence) my new handy dandy 30y-of-EFF tshirt that I got for supporting them last month. I usually donate to causes and pass on goods because I don’t care for the merch (plus want the money to go all the way). EFF is a brand I want to wear. They’re awesome.

I first joined their mailing list ~1996(?) when DMCA was being hashed out. I was too young to know if I was on the right side when reading their updates (legalese on a teen was confusing). I hope more people here will open their wallets. EFF are fighting the good fight.


Oh man, thanks for the heads up! I didn't know they had a merch shop, just snagged the sick DEFCON 26 tee.



Wow I was hoping to grab something from the shop but that's some ugly stuff. We have casual dress code at work so I would love a classy EFF-themed T-shirt. Most of these have that juvenile meme-y/merch-ey/joke style though so that's a pass.

Plain "EFF" like on the "EFF Label Pin" on a grey fabric would have been nice. Doesn't have to be "cool" (?) just because it's on a T-shirt.

Edit: Actually just give me the Onesie design on a T-shirt (not black) and I'm good


Agreed. They could have spend ~1/2 as much time on these designs and they would be wearable for our demographic.


I have to agree with your sentiments after looking through the shop. Hopefully they'll come up with some new designs later.


+1, hear! hear! This! Strongest possible agree. If a change like that's gonna happen, it'll be bc people who feel like us do something, and soon. But what? I donate to EFF, but is there some catalyst for this specific action?


> What would it take for the ICANN to claw back the .org registry and grant it to a more ethical caretaker?

That would require ICANN to transition into an organization that acts in the public interest.


CCOR would be great. I don't know how they're structured, but the co-operative model would be perfect for TLDs.


> In return, they were well compensated as they managed .org registrations over all these years, which is more or less a license to print money.

Clearly, there’s more to managing a domain than a “license to print money”. Otherwise, who would want to sell it?


We don't need to guess on this one. One of ISOC members who helped seal this greasy deal wrote a whole thinkpiece last year justifying it:

http://www.circleid.com/posts/20191127_why_i_voted_to_sell_o...

The short version is that guaranteed annual recurring revenue is great, but a billion dollars all at once is a lot of money, and could be used for all kinds of things.

Not in the article: because it would be Ethos who'd later raise prices on .org (had the plan gone through), the ISOC would have some deniability of not having been the direct infractor. It'd be a win/win: Ethos would still profit despite the high price tag, and ISOC would get a huge windfall while keeping its hands only a little grimy (not dirty, but not clean).

And if the piece's reasoning seemed sound to you, I'd call attention in particular to these sentences:

> Ethos has said that their plan is to "live within the spirit of historic practice," that is, to manage prices roughly as PIR would have under the stewardship of the Internet Society. If they impose the maximum 10% price increase plan for ten years, the price will be around $26 per year — still quite affordable.

Compare them to what the EFF wrote, and you'll see that notably absent from Richard's article is how the 10% increase cap is only active for the first eight years (not even 10 as stated). After that, Ethos was free to raise prices as much as they liked. Somehow, Richard mistakenly forgot to include this rather important detail.


Another impression I got from Richard Barnes' thinkpiece is his apparent opinion that managing the .org registry was turning into a resource-intensive, time-consuming responsibility for the Internet Society and a distraction from its main mission. If that were the case, then how about if the .org registry were turned over to a non-profit that was solely and strictly dedicated to running the registry responsibly and affordably? Is creating such a non-profit feasible? Could it survive over the long term?

For that matter, how much does running a TLD registry with a few million domains actually cost? To me, the whole domain name registration business reeks of rent-seeking and of the exploitation of monopolies, but I'm don't know enough about it yet to confirm these suspicions.


> If that were the case, then how about if the .org registry were turned over to a non-profit that was solely and strictly dedicated to running the registry responsibly and affordably? Is creating such a non-profit feasible? Could it survive over the long term?

.de is run by a non-profit and has been since 1996. Before that it had been run by researchers of the University of Karlsruhe. Until a few years ago, .de was the largest ccTLD and the second largest TLD overall.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/DENIC (english, short)

https://de.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/DENIC (german, long and informative)


See also SIDN (https://nl.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stichting_Internet_Domeinreg...), the non-profit managing the 6th biggest ccTLD: .nl


It's a license to print a specific amount of money every year. So the party who would want to sell it is the party who wants an enormous pile of money right away instead of a large amount every year indefinitely.

It's inherently suspicious when that party is supposed to be a non-profit, because they should generally want to keep doing their work going forward instead of cashing out like some kind of for-profit corporate raiders.


They could have set aside 5% every year and ended up with an endowment and retain control of a continuous revenue stream. Responsible non-profits would do this as a matter of course.


Selling lets the PE firm be “the bad guys”. ISOC gets to dodge responsibility while retaining nearly all the profits of being culpable.


It's a game. It would have been purchased with borrowed money that would have ended up eaten up in salaries and bonuses for the people who got the sale done; shortly afterwards it would have been declared a huge loss and the complete sale price written off by everyone against taxes owed by their other ventures for the foreseeable future; then it would be sold on for a token to a company that operates from a Delaware P.O. Box and immediately quadruples the prices.


> Clearly, there’s more to managing a domain than a “license to print money”. Otherwise, who would want to sell it?

I know this is a bit pedantic/not the point, but any "license to print money" -- that is, any claim on an infinite stream of recurring income -- actually has a fixed value at which you _should_ sell it. See https://www.fool.com/investing/2016/06/22/how-to-calculate-t...


Someone looking for a quick buck?


I looks like Ethos Capital would have had to make at least $100 per domain to recover the cost of buying the .org registry, never mind making a profit. I wonder how much of a profit they were aiming for and how quickly they planned on making that profit...


Exactly, a non profit making X money per year is harder for insiders to profit from. However, setup a sale to the company of your choice and suddenly you can profit handsomely.


From an investment standpoint it can make sense to convert a slow but reliable income stream into a big chunk of cash that you can invest in riskier assets with higher returns.


The math is different for non profits as they are excluded form income taxes where a for profit company is going to be heavily discounting the value of that income stream.

Thus, it would generally be better for the non profit to simply take a loan out based on the income stream and invest that.


No formal investigation into the ICANN corruption that led to this situation in the first place?


There's no way this is a durable win without some thorough investigation, post mortem about how this nearly happened, and corrective actions.


Cali AG was looking into it.


According to the AG's April 15, 2020 letter, an investigation was already completed.

> To that end, my office conducted an investigation of ICANN and its role in approving the transfer of the .ORG Registry Agreement from the Public Interest Registry ("PIR") (the supporting organization to the Internet Society ("ISOC")) to Ethos Capital

https://oag.ca.gov/system/files/attachments/press-docs/AG%20...

That letter ends with a warning that the AG would "continue to evaluate" the matter. Considering the ICANN board rejected the sale April 30[1], two weeks after the letter, I suspect the AG's office is no longer looking into the matter. Because the sale was never completed, and everything else seems to be business as usual, I don't think there's anything for the AG to continue looking into. The AG's job is to make sure charitable trusts adhere to their purpose, not to police potential impropriety that doesn't materially effect the trust. (They basically play the role of a shareholder, who in regular corporations can sue if the corporation doesn't adhere to the articles of incorporation; or the role of a beneficiary in a regular trust, who can sue if the trustee misappropriates the assets.) I'm also not sure if there's any criminal exposure here. Usually self-dealing is a civil matter, even for charitable trusts, unless it involves some other criminal act--e.g. fraud, but in this case nobody really thinks the board was being duped by the former ICANN CEO. If there was potential criminality then probably the AG wasn't confident it could make a case beyond a reasonable doubt without an actual sale and evidence about how .org would have been administered in fact.

[1] https://www.icann.org/resources/board-material/resolutions-2.... Announcement at https://www.icann.org/news/blog/icann-board-withholds-consen...


The only correct answer is to switch to decentralized solutions like namecoin.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Any "formal investigation" will be a temporary fix at best. ICANN can do what it wants and it always will.


Have you checked out Handshake? It’s a decentralized DNS experiment that launched this year and already has adoption from domain registrars like 101domain.com and Encirca


"Handshake uses proof-of-work mining, as it is currently the most reliable way to do compact light client proofs. Proof of work uses computational power, a lot of it."

No thanks.


You know who I would trust to administer the .org TLD for long-term public good... The EFF.


I definitely agree in the short term, but having profitable assets might attract the wrong kind of people to the organisation so I don't know how I feel about it in the long term.


Surely this could be set up to redirect profits into the EFFs other work in a binding sort of way.


That's precisely how ICANN was set up, as a public benefit corporation with articles of incorporation that required it to promote "the global public interest in the operational stability of the Internet." But if you control the board, in the long term you can accomplish pretty much whatever you want. Relying on regulators to give such an organization sufficient attention isn't a good strategy; their attention is spread thin across thousands of organizations, and of course they lack domain knowledge. Though, you can leverage the threat of regulators to impede the board, much like the EFF did as a vigilant third party.

Ultimately what needs to happen is for ICANN board members to be replaced with better people; perhaps people nominated by the EFF and similar organizations. Hopefully that will happen. Moving responsibilities to the EFF just shuffles labels around. The same thing that happened to ICANN could happen to EFF, it just hasn't happened yet because EFF isn't holding billions in assets.


This is the important analysis here.

People who think in systems (as programmers often do) sometimes fail to understand this. At some point, every human institutional is more human than institution and it's only having people who will choose to do the right thing in place to exercise authority on behalf of the right thing who will make this happen.

Some problems have social solutions -- political solutions, even -- not technical ones. Personnel is policy.


It's for this very reason I'm so enamored with the concept of organizational fragmenting - gore-tex does it, and it's the sort of de facto method of restructuring that goes on in online communities: the idea is that when you get so big you need to create new vertical controls, you split horizontally - control is never vested in a central authority (instead, teams are responsible for their zone, and communicate with each other when necessary).

This has the power to make it much more difficult to achieve economic capture. It's way harder to buy off key figures in 8 different hierarchies than it is to just dump a load of money on a single CEO.

(this)[https://www.managementexchange.com/story/innovation-democrac...] is one of the better write-ups on such a structure that I could find.


What needs to happen is for ICANN to be replaced by an international body outside the US.


Preferably with a rotating board.


Shouldn't GNU count as profitable assets already? I think the GCC was valued at something like a billion dollars.


RMS is too strong of an ideolog, (in the good sense), for him to go astray, others am less sure of.


I could get behind this. I'd contribute to a crowdfund to support that as well (as a .org domain holder)


I would trust EFF to administer all TLDs :) Epic win EFF, good job!


Serious money is a huge temptation.

Have you noticed the path down which the ACLU and SPLC have gone?

Do you notice how Mozilla have shed staff despite the lack on any major dent in their income?

I'm sorry but these types of "activist" companies have a way of going wrong when there are huge sums of money involved.

Just leave them where they are and let them continue as usual.


What path have the ACLU and SPLC gone down?


Not sure what the parent was talking about specifically, but the ACLU has fallen into the trap of pursuing partisan politics. They have leaned hard into anti-Trump rhetoric to the point that it consumes almost all of their messaging, and at the same time they have distanced themselves from ideals they once defended (in particular, they have stopped providing legal defense support for free speech court cases if they find the speech sufficiently reprehensible).

The problem I personally have with this shift is that organizations like the ACLU, FSF, and EFF are really only useful if they defend a core set of ideals rather than towing the ever-shifting partisan line. There are plenty of ways to fund Democrat/Republican causes, but strikingly few ways to fund civil liberty defense, software freedom, and the rest of the values with less mind share.


They defended the NRA in 2018

https://www.aclu.org/blog/free-speech/new-york-state-cant-be...

They defended an anti-muslim group protesting in 2014

https://www.aclumich.org/en/cases/hecklers-veto


Being pro-democracy can be neutral one year and not the next if a facist leaning president gets elected. ACLU is neutral as in pro-democracy and pro-human rights. Changing political landscapes being for or against what the ACLU stands for has nothing to do with it suddenly not being neutral. Neutral doesn't mean "in the middle of the political spectrum".

Today we have a president that is firmly against the core set of ideals you speak of. That doesn't mean the ACLU should suddenly change their ideals.

>organizations like the ACLU, FSF, and EFF are really only useful if they defend a core set of ideals rather than towing the ever-shifting partisan line

Which are exactly what they are doing. Trump is against those core set of ideals.


> ACLU is neutral as in pro-democracy and pro-human rights. Changing political landscapes being for or against what the ACLU stands for has nothing to do with it suddenly not being neutral.

You described the incredible shrinking and shifting of the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overton_window


Nazis in Skokie are also against that core set of ideals. Only pursuing justice for people who you agree with is the essence of fascism. You have to be consistent to your own values, not evaluate victims to figure out whether you like them or not.

In fact, defending victims who you hate isolates and illustrates the principle.


The change at the ACLU happened way before Trump. When Romero replaced Glasser, the priorities and philosophy of the organization changed dramatically.


Seems like a nice victory in a single battle. But in the context of a much larger war in the TLD space it doesn’t seem like domain registrants are winning:

https://domainnamewire.com/2020/11/19/donuts-is-acquiring-af...

EDIT to add: http://domainincite.com/26107-westerdal-offloads-two-more-gt...


Maybe the best outcome will be that Donuts gobbles up everything, gets sued for being an illegal monopoly, broken up, and then the whole sordid registry system can be replaced.


Now you have me curious - what kind of better replacement do you have in mind?


Rules:

1) First-come-first-serve for your first handful of domains. Price is nominal (e.g. $1/year).

2) Increasing price with number of domains held. If I hold myname.com, it's $1. If I hold a thousand domain, the last 500 are at $1000/year.

3) Oversight for transfers. If sold, resale value is capped. Historic domains shouldn't be used for spam but perhaps go to archive.org or similar entities.

4) Managed by a government institution or not-for-profit with open meetings, salary caps, public records requests, and other (legally-enforceable) checks-and-balances.

5) Several TLDs, but you can't register in all of them. You can have mybusiness.com or mybusiness.mobi, but not all of the above. If I have the same business name as you (Apple records v. Apple computer), I go to a different TLD.

6) Rules for new TLDs. You can't pull the Coursera.org "We're a not-for-profit" shtick. Old domains grandfathered in.

7) Oversight/governing board with members from the EFF, FSF, OSF, and so on.


> Increasing price with number of domains held. If I hold myname.com, it's $1. If I hold a thousand domain, the last 500 are at $1000/year.

People will just form a thousand LLCs or use straw men.

> Managed by a government institution or not-for-profit with open meetings, salary caps, public records requests, and other (legally-enforceable) checks-and-balances.

I think you're making this too complicated.

Just prohibit them from ever raising the price or changing the terms on an existing registrant. The cost of hosting goes down over time, so the price should never increase. If you started off paying $10/year, it never goes up, the end.

And then create more sensible top-level domains, like when they're industry-specific. Then there is more competition between TLDs and the value of good names stays lower, which discourages squatting because it's less profitable when good names are less scarce.


> People will just form a thousand LLCs or use straw men.

Given the overhead of forming, filing and paying for an LLC, that's probably a good disincentive.

For example in the UK there's an annual £13 filing fee, plus a £100 automatic fine if you miss your tax return by one day. Even returning a 'no tax' return takes about 20 mins of work. It's definitely not scalable to holding thousands of domains.


>> Managed by a government institution or not-for-profit with open meetings, salary caps, public records requests, and other (legally-enforceable) checks-and-balances.

>I think you're making this too complicated.

It isn't complicated at all. My internet provider is exactly like this. Unlike US "nonprofits" it is actually nonprofit and every dollar goes to building a better infrastructure.


> People will just form a thousand LLCs or use straw men.

Replace "if I hold" with "if the Beneficial Owner holds" to stop that. Beneficial ownership is not masked by forming LLCs or using intermediaries.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beneficial_ownership


> Beneficial ownership is not masked by forming LLCs or using intermediaries.

Defining a term does not make it a reality, it would seem: https://www.financierworldwide.com/tackling-beneficial-owner...


How do you enforce that? Now you need to have a regulatory agency whose sole purpose is to investigate people, companies attempting to abuse, workaround the system.


You can't enforce it consistently - as another commenter said, in practice ownership is still masked.

But if the price or terms of ownership of something like domain ownership were legally defined using a reference to beneficial owners, that would make ownership the result of fraud (if terms haven't been complied with) and therefore precarious when such owners are discovered later.

The possibility of losing a valuable domain later due to discovery of that breach of terms would create an incentive against that kind of fraud.

If the terms are just to set a higher price, without requiring beneficial owners to be named, potential owners might be willing to simply pay the higher amount without revealing who they actually are, to ensure they don't face the risk of losing the domain on discovery, and that would achieve the original goal of raising the price.


Private right of action.

If I want morbidus-rex.com, and I see a cybersquatter there, I can file a complaint. I pay $100.

You also need to give appropriate tools to allow private enforcement. If I file a complaint, the cybersquatter is required to release documents showing corporate ownership all the way up the chain. Failure to do so results in automatic loss.

Registrar arbitrates, with first $1000 in costs going to complainer, and remaining going to registrant. Typical case, I show that I'm an individual or similar entity, and it's done. If there is a complex corporate scheme to decipher, the party with the complex corporate scheme covers costs.

And if you hold a thousand domains like jkhzxkljhdsjkl12jkl.com, I don't really care.


> Beneficial ownership is not masked by forming LLCs or using intermediaries.

Well, yeah, in practice it often is masked that way. Sufficient effort can often penetrate the mask, by that doesn't mean it's not effectively masked.


That isn't designed to be an anti-sybil measure, and won't work as such.


The hosting required for a Registry is a "bit" more complex than some little crud web app.


No it isn't.


I used to work for the coop that ran .coop ICANT's technical requirements are very stringent.


I could live with that.


I can't believe i'm saying this, but... this is probably a good use case for a blockchain with limited committers. Intermediary businesses can form to handle getting the three (or whatever) committers necessary, competition between committers keeps their fees low, competition between intermediary companies keep their fees low, distributed ledger keeps everyone honest about ownership. Do I get my VC check now?


EFF is currently in the middle of its year-end fundraising challenge. If you donate now at: https://eff.org/donate/ you'll be helping unlock a series of matching grants.

Plus, this year, a US tax rule change means that you can deduct up to $300, even if you don't itemize. https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/special-300-tax-deduction-helps...


I did this and had my workplace match the donation.


For anyone who shops at Amazon, you can use Amazon Smile to automatically donate a percent of your purchases to EFF:

https://smile.amazon.com/gp/chpf/about/ref=smi_se_dshb_aas_s...


I do this, but I also worry that a result of "Amazon Smile" will be that charitable organizations will be less willing to be critical of Amazon due to donations to them being provided by Amazon.


Right. Also buy somewhere, anywhere else whenever possible. You can still donate separately.


No good can possibly come from the sale of something in the public interest to a private equity firm. Surely ICANN knew this, and the attempt to go through with it indicates corruption within ICANN.


I'm a big fan of the EFF, but all this flexing over...getting back to the status quo sure as hell reminds me of https://incite-national.org/beyond-the-non-profit-industrial....

Every growing NGOs in a perfect stalemate of ever increasing outrage and budgets is a lot like Oceania and Eastasia in perpetual war so the increasing productivity doesn't lead to leisure time.


If it were a for-profit, private company which was "flexing" I'd agree with you. But EFF works hard to defend our rights and internet freedom.

If they bolster their wins with some overly excited language, I believe they are well within their right. Also, it serves as a good way to promote their work and incentivise people to contribute.

I fail to see an issue with their approach here but would like to hear a counter argument if there is one.


I don't there is a specific issue here, and yeah I like the EFF too.

But imagine if were, I duno, someone from the Red Cross, Greenpeace, or something writing this.


Not sure why you are tone policing the EFF and implying they are a part of some kind of NGO conspiracy if you are “a big fan”.


I honestly didn't think we'd win. I'm still a little speechless we did.

EFF is one of only a few organizations I've ever donated money to, and clearly they deserve so again. This entire saga has made me a dyed-in-the-wool EFF fanboy (and I was always a fan.)


Ethos Capital is a sock puppet entity created in 2019 with the sole purpose of concealing the identity of investors we do not know much about.

The EFF had significant restraint when it comes to talk about Ethos Capital itself.


As a rule of thumb: If some party or law has 'freedom', 'ethics', 'public', 'peoples' or such words in their name in one form or another then you're being had.


ICANN has proven itself incapable of governing the root DNS namespace. As much as crypto gets a bad rap here I think it’d be better if authority over TLDs was decentralized such that anyone could own one. Handshake.org is one project trying to do this and interestingly there are additional benefits to decentralizing the root DNS such as getting rid of CAs as the root of trust for security.


I'm just here to see what account ICANN has to say


Hmm, there's still the issue that both ISOC and ICANN are located in the USA, and – unless they have been granted super-special status by the UN – are subject to USA laws.

As long that is the case, we have an "USAnet", rather than a real Internet.

I can see two ways to deal with this issue :

1.) A UN-funded organization located on "UN soil", ideally far away from the biggest powers (but then close enough to Internet nodes) – maybe Geneva, Switzerland ?

2.) A decentralized system. Freenet / Tor / Blockchain aficionados can have their field day.

In both these cases, the only thing that the organization could do is to keep just enough friction to keep domain scalpers at bay. No censorship whatsoever allowed, if a country wants to block a domain name, they will have to do it on their side.

Yes, this means that there will be pedo / nazi / terrorist / copyright infringement ( / &c.) domains, but you can't have both your freedom of speech cake and eat the censorship too : this is more important than Facebook comments / YouTube videos!

(Hmm, I wonder why isis.org redirects (for me?) to species360.org ?)

Oh, also maybe this organization could keep a database of worldwide judicial decisions about the blocking of domain names.

Also there needs to be enough friction on domain name changes for the judiciary systems to be able to keep up.

Oh, and it would also be responsible for verifying that the .ngo/.ong domains really belong to non-profit, non-governmental organizations.


So you want to make ISOC or ICANN even more independent/powerful than they already are, to take away the single thing that reined them in this time?


The current issue seems to be happening because they are able to sell .org.

My version wouldn't be allowed to do that.


While I agree with your premise of a neutral organisation free speech doesn't work. It never has and never will. The internet has proven that a lawless space should not be tolerated. Nazis, Islamism, rape porn, child abuse, slave sales, hitmen, ... You don't want the mob to rule the web.

The question would then be if nations can find some common ground of what is unacceptable (so e.g. insulting the king of Thailand shouldn't get your site deleted) or there needs to be another system to enable global takedowns.


Sorry, maybe I should have said "The (regular) Web" since that's what we are talking about.

AFAIK a lot of these not-web/"dark web"(?)–sites are available on the Internet via tools like Freenet (and Tor?)

> The question would then be if nations can find some common ground of what is unacceptable

This is just not going to happen. There are 195 countries in the world. They can't even agree on whether women have the same rights as men or whether it is legal to draw images of the Muslim prophet (So, depending on what you mean by the term, "Islamism" might just be the legal system of some countries, as 35 of them apply more or less the Sharia).

Or another example : the USA is supposed to be a single country, yet in some of its states sex between full blown adults and teenagers of a certain age is legal, while in others a teenager becomes a sex offender by merely owning photos of him/herself naked !

(And how would you deal with potential new countries that might not agree to the previous 'common ground' ?)


And when you think about it, having a different DNS root would bring into existence an entirely new internet universe.

I don't remember the name of the server but there was at least one that I knew of which mirrored the current DNS but allowed for the idea of enabling an Internet 2.


Please donate. If you are a business, likely you get other businesses offering you end of year gifts. Decline and ask for a donation to the EFF. Our future to to do business online depends on their ability to fight these things for us.


The fees on .org are expensive compared to the other top level domains com/net

I recently switched from org to the countrycode version for a domain that was available and saved half of the cost.


So $1 per month instead of $2?


Not everyone counts their holdings in USD. That price difference may be what sets a launched and abandoned project apart.

One of my neighbors is 17 and interested in coding and computers. I'd say their family MAYBE brings in 250 USD a month -- but probably less. A dollar can be a lot.


Does your neighbor really need a domain, and does it have to be a .org? You can do web stuff with free or ultra-cheap domains. And most hosting services will cost much more than the $0.67 or $0.85 you pay per month for a .com or .org respectively (at CloudFlare Domains).


He probably doesn't need an .org, but I was more commenting on the general attitude displayed by the parent poster.


Yeah, let's get private equity involved, that'll make it cheaper for sure.


What is this in reference to?


The .org deal this whole thread is about. PE tried to get their dirty hands on this TLD


The linked article, perhaps?


When I was young, I was in that state. Some light black-hat SEOing and ad fraud and you can pay for the domain. Some other stuff that works is to generate content for a bunch of pointless sites that are trying to make it look like they're high traffic. Also, that's why I'm a huge fan of not enforcing minimum age on work globally for digital work. I did all this as a teenager and it helped me become an engineer.

I think it's even better now, though KYC stuff probably makes it much harder to get paid. So you have better avenues (Fiverr, Upwork, etc.) but maybe difficulty getting the dollars into your local currency.


Like 20/30 for a .org compared to 10.99. For a hobbiest who isn't making money off the site and has a few domains costs will start to mount. 5 domains can cost you an extra 100.

Note: All prices are coverted to local currency.


where do you get .org for $2?


They said per month which is USD 24 a year I guess?


I'd be really interested where you can buy .org domains for $2 a year so that I can move my domains there. Please don't disappoint me!


The comment says "per month".


Currently $2/yr extra ($10.99/yr) at Dynadot and most other good registrars


Am I the only one thinking that "organization" is a super-vague term ?

IMHO non-profits should (instead / in addition) register the .ngo/.ong domain...


So you mean 'Non Government' == 'Non Profit'?

I know that the term NGO is used for Non Profits, but strictly speaking I think that comes more from the term 'Organization' (as opposed to company) than from the term 'Non Government'.


You need both to be an NGO/ONG :

> A non-governmental organization (NGO) is a non-for-profit, voluntary citizens’ group, which is organized on a local, national or international level to address issues in support of the public good.

https://www.apa.org/international/united-nations/acronyms.pd...


I would love to support them and buy from their shop but $25 shipping is a bit much. I guess it'll just be a regular donation.


ICANN being an utter debacle? If only we could have seen this coming. /s


Thank you EFF!


Will I get censored for upvoting this story? ;)


EFF should "let's encrypt" TLDs...

They could buy one or several TLDs and provide it for a reasonable price and not increase the price unless it's really necessary for the operation of the TLD....

I'll leave the details to the experts...


I'd predict this would lead to rampant domain squatting on such a free TLD, which would render the TLD useless


What if it was like a dollar a year with “premium” domains and domains shorter than say five or six characters cost some obscene amount like a thousand dollars a year?


Ah yes, bravo EFF, you've won another battle barely keeping us at the status quo.

When are you going to stop playing whack-a-mole trying to defend against every assault on internet freedoms and go on the offensive and try to win the game for the good guys?

We now have the ability to give the poorest child on earth access to the same information as the richest, and yet we allow industry to shackle us instead.

It's time to demand intellectual freedom. #AbolishCopyright. #AbolishPatents. #AbolishImaginaryPropertyLaws


You are probably getting downvoted because this is the best we have right now. We would all love to stop playing whack-a-mole, but for that we need more resources for groups like EFF, not disregard them for what they actually accomplish. If you know any ways or groups more successful in achieving the goals of intellectual freedom, a lot of us are very interested.


You're upset that the EFF isn't able to work miracles?

Abolishing intellectual property (which, frankly, sounds like a terrible idea) would be a global effort requiring the invalidation of treaties and battling a nearly infinite war chest because the wealthiest companies in the world rely on it.


> Intellectual Property

We've come to call ideas and iterative mutations of such thoughtstuff "property" as if thoughts can be owned.

What we call "intellectual property" is more accurately (at least in my current strong conclusion) called monopoly rights. Monopoly rights over the application and commercial profit of such thoughtstuff as a conscious trade-off/government subsidy to provide economic incentive for innovation outside of whatever would exist naturally.

Property rights over scarce resources are a fundamental tenant of a liberal society.

Intellectual property is a government subsidy.


Right, and despite all the fury and word salad, it still exists and will continue to do so.


...until it doesn't. Preserving IP takes a lot of effort from a lot of highly-paid people. Currently, most of those are compensated by the public, but that won't always be the case.


"Abolishing intellectual property"

The other part is that nobody but a small group of fringe people want that, and the populist appeal of 'free movies' would wane pretty quickly as movies and entertainment literally stopped being made.

Among myriad other products and services.


If the EFF has to play whack-a-mole it's because there is no one single problem or threat vector to internet freedoms. Going on the offensive would require just as much whack-a-mole, fighting battles on many fronts, because there is no single issue they could fight for & win that would resolve the entire picture.

And in the case of the .ORG issue, what would going on the offensive even have looked like? How would the EFF have fought off an attempt by a private equity firm to obtain & abuse stewardship over the TLD?


> there is no one single problem or threat vector to internet freedoms

There is one and only one problem: #ImaginaryPropertyLaws.

What do all of the companies and organizations the EFF is constantly battling have in common? They all derive their power from #ImaginaryPropertyLaws and would all be disrupted without them.


How is a domain imaginary property? Only one person can use it. Whether you call it property or something else, the end result is the same.

How is internet censorship related to property? No more so than speech out in the real world is related to property rights.

I'm not saying you're even wrong: You've simply made an extremely vague claim without explanation of what you mean or, in response to my comment, what single battle could be fought to resolve the issue. Your comment lacks the necessary criteria to even evaluate it.


> How is a domain imaginary property?

You are right about this one, the ".org" registry is orthogonal to IP laws and in fact, there's nothing wrong with having centralized registries (which trademarks sort of are) as long as anyone can start one, which anyone can here. I would say the only connection to this specific issue is that I believe we've stagnated in protocols the past 30 years since the Web and EFF both came out due to copyright laws. We're stuck in a more centralized place, and less decentralized where we could move to if information could move freely.

Internet censorship is handsdown completely dominated by having copyright laws. If you abolish copyright laws, you'd open the flood gates of peer 2 peer information sharing. those p2p connections would grow very, very strong (what fires together wires together), and it would become near impossible for centralized censorship orgs to work.

Very fair points! Hope that clarifies my stance a bit. People say "the world is not black and white." I say "no, it's black and black^2". Abolishing #ImaginaryProperty in my mind is black^2, the current status quo is far inferior from every angle (except for people whose most important metric is to be in the .1%).


I think I generally disagree, but thanks for a more detailed response, it's an interesting discussion.


I agree with your goals. I absolutely want to both reduce the strength of copyright restrictions and encourage a culture of open access IP (aka open source, FLOSS, etc).

That said, the tone of your comment isn’t generally appreciated on HN. The sarcasm can promote unhealthy discussion, and the use of hashtags is odd since HN doesn’t use hashtags.

I hope you will continue to talk about problems with IP restrictions without resorting to this kind of cynical sarcasm. It’s an important idea and when presented well could help change some minds here.


I honestly wish the EFF was as powerful as you imagine it to be.


Right? Why throw stones at the EFF who are actually doing something in the fight. They don't have the resources to do more than now, and yeah it feels like a losing battle. Don't shit on the people who are with you in that battle though.


We don't need to go to this extreme.

Restore copyrights and patents to 25 years. Place burden of proof on the copyright claimant.


Ah yes, the extreme. Allowing poor kids in inner city schools to share information that rich kids have access to, using property their parent(s) purchased with their own money. How extreme. Pointing out that a new book is literally made entirely of symbols invented thousands of years ago and contributes nothing of value in comparison, how extreme. Saying that we shouldn't prioritize selling bad medicines over good ones, how extreme.


Patents are currently only 20 years.


Yup. These people are probably thinking of copyright, which software fall under. Which current is 95 years from publication or author’s lifespan + 75 years, and should almost certainly be shortened closer to patent length.


I love a lot of what the EFF does, but this campaign, and many other organizations involved in it got a lot wrong. The real issue, that in fairness the EFF leads with, was the change in the .org contract, not the sale itself. The most robust overview of the whole thing that I have read can be found here: https://www.internetgovernance.org/2020/05/01/no-real-winner...

Whether people like it or not the operation of the DNS, including .org, is a commercial endeavor. It doesn't make sense to focus only on .org, when a) Registrars not Registries are the real place to try and protect Registrants. b) Org has always been open to anyone, and their are likely as many, if not more civil society organizations in com, net, and other tlds.


> Whether people like it or not the operation of the DNS, including .org, is a commercial endeavor.

It's about disparate impact, as is the case in many things that have extensive histories around them.

That .org was allowed to drift from its original mission of being the "catch-all / noncommercial" zone of the DNS doesn't mean we shouldn't work to nudge it back to that original ideal. At a minimum, allowing what is arguably a public good (DNS is a limited space, though less limited than phone numbers or RF allocations) to be transferred and barricaded is not good.


I don't disagree that the DNS is a public good. And fascinatingly unique in that it's global public good, reasonably successfully managed without government intervention.

If the barricading is in reference to price increases, then again it's not the acquisition that enabled this, it was the contract change with ICANN. Registries transfer ownership all the time. .Biz was acquired by GoDaddy this year, and Afilias who run .info as well as the technical backend for .org was acquired by Donuts. No one made a fuss about these, which is another reason why the .org upset feels arbitrary. Is there something inherently bad with those acquisitions?

I'm not sure I understand the drifting comment. .Org continues to position itself as a place for everyone. It's not clear to me what policies you think are drifting from that.

What I think people continue to miss is that by and large the Registry is far, far less involved in the life of any particular domain than the Registrar. Their policy choices, pressure points, and regulatory requirements are substantially more impactful than those of the Registry.


Nobody cares about the .biz acquisition because nobody cares about .biz. A lot of the early additional gTLDs got tarred as "scammy places for people who didn't care enough to find a .com". On the other hand, people can think of .org sites they use and don't like the thought of them being potentially held to ransom by rent seekers


Yes some of the front a centre use of "non proffit" by the EFF is a little worrying.

One of the other bidders when ISO won - wanted to limit .org to strictly USA defined non profits which meant that Red cross ect would not be allowed to use .org


This is like saying "Whether people like it or not the King of France is sovereign." Why is the operation of the DNS a commercial endeavor, and what would go wrong if it were not be the case? There are a huge number of examples of successful internet infrastructure projects that are non-commercial, perhaps with commercial participants or sponsors but not commercial themselves. (The IETF, Let's Encrypt, and Linux all come to mind.)

https://www.potaroo.net/ispcol/2020-09/root.html (posted on HN a while ago) says that the DNS root servers get about 10^11 queries per day, or one million queries per second. Hitting 10K queries per second on a single server is entirely doable, so you would just need 100 cloud VMs to handle the entire root DNS load.

I realize the TLD servers are more loaded than the roots, but it's still not so much traffic that it's entirely out of the question to make it a community-run service on the basis of traffic / engineering effort. So what other reason is there that it must be commercial?

(Note that there are over 10 million .org domain names, and they charge fees of about $9. Even if you cut fees to $1, that's still plenty of money for both infrastructure and labor. You could hire a team of ten SREs at very-senior-FAANG salaries and still have a bunch of money left over.)


The IETF probably isn't a useful example because it's a fairly strange thing. You probably couldn't (and shouldn't try to) do very much else that way. It's doubtful whether for example it constitutes an "organisation".

It has no formal legal existence whatsoever, so it can't own anything, including money, nor enter into any sort of contract with anybody, it doesn't have members, and the staff who make things happen aren't working for the IETF per se.

Something like ISRG (the organisation that provides the Let's Encrypt service you mentioned) is much more conventional, there's a not-for-profit legal entity in a specific place with employees, equipment and so on. It would be reasonable to run a TLD that way, and in fact I assume some of them are indeed run that way.


Who owns ietf.org etc.? I guess the answer is the Internet Society, which created the Public Interest Registry which currently owns .org (and which was the entity that intended to sell PIR to Ethos Capital), so maybe the IETF was a bad example for that reason too :)


This why is a choice made by the NTIA in the late 90s, I think. And, to be fair, the coordination of the DNS via ICANN is a non-commercial affair.

I just don't think it's worth entertaining the idea of trying to de-commercialize the operation of the DNS. You've got about ~450 families of gtld Registrars, some 200 or so Registries including behemoths like Verisign. All with contracts, obligations, shareholders, infrastructure etc. You can't put that genie back in the bottle, or at least not without a myriad of consequences.


>Whether people like it or not the operation of the DNS, including .org, is a commercial endeavor

Whether people like it or not, this doesn't have to mean privatized, nor profitable.


You're right that it doesn't have to, but I certainly don't think converting the DNS to a publicly run entity by some particular government is anything close to a good idea.

Or if that's really your thing, stick to ccTLDs which for the most part are run by arms length agencies of national governments and subject to far stricter rules than gtlds.


> Registrars not Registries are the real place to try and protect Registrants

This makes zero sense. There is robust competition among registrars and since it's easy to change registrars, registrars have a disincentive to screw over registrants. In contrast, registries have registrants completely over the barrel because you can't change registry without giving up your domain name. So registries are absolutely the place where registrants need to be protected.


"Whether people like it or not the operation of the DNS, including .org, is a commercial endeavor."

? It most definitely does not have to be.

There's basically no reason it at all has to be commercial, it's one of the things that makes more sense to socialize, because it's not about value creation, it's public property and rent-seeking. Handing over a non-value creating cash-cow to private equity is not 'good capitalism'.




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