All .org domains are newly threatened by potential price increases because:
- Price caps on .org domains were removed in June 2019.
- The nonprofit operator of the .org domain registry is selling the rights to operate the .org registry to a private venture capital firm.
The Public Interest Registry (PIR) recently announced that it will sell the rights to operate the domain to a new venture capital firm, Ethos Capital. (Following the sale, PIR will also transition away from nonprofit status.)
From a comprehensive article covering the sale:
…the Internet Society (ISOC) announced that it has sold the rights to the .org registry for an undisclosed sum to a private equity company called Ethos Capital. The deal is set to complete in the first quarter of .
The decision shocked the internet industry, not least because the .org registry has always been operated on a non-profit basis and has actively marketed itself as such. The suffix “org” on an internet address – and there are over 10 million of them – has become synonymous with non-profit organizations.
This comes on the heels of a policy change by ICANN—the organization that oversees all website domains—in June 2019 to remove price caps on .org domains. That change was made in spite of overwhelming public opposition to the rule change. This looks especially bad because the person who oversaw the pricing policy change is now closely linked with the company purchasing the domain rights.
This sale potentially poses a threat to the affordability of website domains for almost every nonprofit organization. And importantly, where previous decisions about management of .org domains were made in good faith in conjunction with the nonprofit sector, that commitment is being jettisoned in favor of profit.
Speak Up: Sign the Petition
A number of large nonprofits and nonprofit technology organizations such as Creative Commons, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Girl Scouts, The Y, Volunteers of America, TechSoup, and NTEN are now collecting signatures on a petition opposing this sale. I encourage you to sign it.
Renew Your Domain
Even if Ethos Capital is to be believed, prices will be going up at least $1 per year. (Raising the cost of a .org domain $55 over 10 years.) So while the impact of the sale is still unclear, you should strongly consider extending your domain’s registration immediately for many years into the future at your current rate.
Despite the uncertainty, there is little downside to doing this because:
- Unlike web hosting, your domain registration renewal will travel with your domain wherever it goes. If you change registrars in the future, any remaining years will carry over.
- If you move your site to a new domain in the future, you should still own your current domain indefinitely so you can redirect old traffic there (an SEO and user benefit) and prevent someone else from purchasing the domain—either innocently or maliciously—and putting a new website up in place of your old one.
This is a terrible situation, and goes against the values of a free and open internet along with the nonprofit sector’s ethos of unselfishly strengthening society.
I encourage you to first speak up for the good of all nonprofits and then act to protect your own website’s domain.