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 .) 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.
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.
Testing this new A tag I heard about.
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
That would require ICANN to transition into an organization that acts in the public interest.
Clearly, there’s more to managing a domain than a “license to print money”. Otherwise, who would want to sell it?
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.
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.
.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)
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.
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...
Thus, it would generally be better for the non profit to simply take a loan out based on the income stream and invest that.
> 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
That letter ends with a warning that the AG would "continue to evaluate" the matter. Considering the ICANN board rejected the sale April 30, 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.
 https://www.icann.org/resources/board-material/resolutions-2.... Announcement at https://www.icann.org/news/blog/icann-board-withholds-consen...
Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Any "formal investigation" will be a temporary fix at best. ICANN can do what it wants and it always will.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 an anti-muslim group protesting in 2014
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.
You described the incredible shrinking and shifting of the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overton_window
In fact, defending victims who you hate isolates and illustrates the principle.
EDIT to add: http://domainincite.com/26107-westerdal-offloads-two-more-gt...
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.
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.
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.
>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.
Replace "if I hold" with "if the Beneficial Owner holds" to stop that. 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...
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.
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.
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.
Plus, this year, a US tax rule change means that you can deduct up to $300, even if you don't itemize.
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 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.
But imagine if were, I duno, someone from the Red Cross, Greenpeace, or something writing this.
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.)
The EFF had significant restraint when it comes to talk about Ethos Capital itself.
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.
My version wouldn't be allowed to do that.
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.
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' ?)
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.
I recently switched from org to the countrycode version for a domain that was available and saved half of the cost.
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.
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.
Note: All prices are coverted to local currency.
IMHO non-profits should (instead / in addition) register the .ngo/.ong domain...
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'.
> 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.
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...
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
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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%).
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.
Restore copyrights and patents to 25 years. Place burden of proof on the copyright claimant.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.)
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.
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, this doesn't have to mean privatized, nor profitable.
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.
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.
? 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'.