Through CommitChange’s six year history, we have always focused on meeting the needs of a variety of nonprofits. Meeting those needs through our service has expanded from our original donation widget to ticket sales and event management, crowdfunding tools and a CRM.
Over the last few years, we’ve attempted to meet the needs of a broader range of nonprofits through our decision to found and provide leadership in the Houdini Project open source community. All of these features, in some way or another, depend on nonprofits having reliable mechanism for sharing information through a website.
One of the most basic requirements for a nonprofit’s website is a low-cost, reliable .ORG domain name. For this reason, we express great concern at the Internet Society’s proposal to sell ownership of the Public Interest Registry (PIR), the manager of the .ORG registry, to a newly created private equity firm, Ethos Capital.
Until recently, the PIR’s ownership by the Internet Society, a registered nonprofit, as well as limits by Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the organization ultimately responsible for all domain name registrations, provided assurances that nonprofits wanting to use a .ORG domain name would be fairly treated. Unfortunately, the most recent .ORG Registry Agreement between PIR and ICANN has far too few “guard rails” on the policies of PIR.
Through its latest .ORG registry agreement, PIR, as monopoly owner of the .ORG registry, will have the authority to make policy changes which would be severely detrimental to the nonprofit community if implemented. Those powers include:
- The power to raise .ORG registration fees at will with no recourse for nonprofits. Given the tight budgets of every nonprofit, any increase in registration fees would take money away from life-changing program work.
- The power to suspend domain names based solely on an accusation of illegal activity by any government, without even a basic due process guarantee for nonprofits. We particularly worry about religious nonprofits, such as Christian nonprofits operating in countries such as Saudi Arabia, as well as LGBT nonprofits, like those operating in countries like Russia, with limited respect for international human rights norms.
Giving such authority to a newly created private equity firm, like Ethos Capital, is far too great a risk to the vital work of our customers and the broader nonprofit/NGO communities. We firmly believe that control of the .ORG registry should be solely in the hands of an inclusive nonprofit leadership group which understands the urgent work of nonprofits and is willing to protect the human rights of those engaging in life-changing humanitarian work.
To this end, we have joined with the over 7000 signers, including CommitChange user Aspiration Tech, of the Save .ORG letter to the Internet Society to stop the sale of PIR to Ethos Capital. Similarly, we encourage our users to consider signing this letter as well. To do so and for more information, visit savedotorg.org.