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Old 2019-11-27, 21:29   #1
ewmayer
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Default Entire .ORG Domain Registry Sold to Private Equity Firm "Ethos Capital"

The Privatized Internet — Entire .ORG Domain Registry Sold to Investment Equity Firm "Ethos Capital" Registration Fee Restrictions Removed | DownWithTyranny
Quote:
It’s a little difficult to get information about Ethos Capital, since they have such a small Web presence. They appear to be these guys, an African capital investment firm:
Quote:
Ethos Capital offers investors long-term capital appreciation by investing in a diversified portfolio of unlisted investments managed by Ethos Private Equity, the largest private equity firm in sub-Saharan Africa.
So what is a sub-Sarahan Africa equity investment firm doing purchasing control of the whole of the .ORG registry? How does an African firm get into position to do this at all? And why are they doing it now?

To answer these question, we turn to The Register, a UK publication, which has looked into this story:
Quote:
Who’s behind Ethos?

Despite stating that Ethos Capital “understands the intricacies of the domain industry” its founder and CEO Erik Brooks has no experience within that industry. The firm’s website lists only Brooks and one Nora Abusitta-Ouri – who joined the outfit last month as its “chief purpose officer” – as employees.

But there is a common thread between those two and it is Fadi Chehade, a former CEO of ICANN, the organization that oversees the domain-name system and awards the contracts to run internet registries.

It was under Chehade that ICANN radically changed its approach to internet registries, including a massive expansion of the internet namespace and a move toward a free market approach to internet addresses. Chehade’s actions as CEO led directly to the Ethos Capital buyout of .org but he is not listed as a part of Ethos Capital and the company has so far failed to respond to our questions about his connection to the firm.

More recent decisions by ICANN also had a significant bearing on the decision to sell the .org registry. At the end of June this year, in a controversial decision made despite significant and vocal opposition, ICANN decided to lift price caps on .org domains for the next 10 years, paving the way for unlimited price increases on the 10 million .org domain names. That decision massively increased the value of the .org registry from millions to potentially billions of dollars.

At the time, ICANN justified the decision by saying it was bringing the contract in line with the many new extensions that have been added to the internet in recent years. And this week, ICANN’s chairman Maarten Botterman told The Register in a statement that:

“The renewal agreement for .org removed the price cap and includes pricing provisions that are consistent with the base form registry agreement that is published and has been in public view for some time, essentially removing the role of ICANN in pricing restraints, where possible.”
So the order of events is:

o ICANN, under Fadi Chehade, in a highly controversial move, massively expands top-level domain names, greatly multiplying profit opportunities for registrar and middlemen.

o PIR, a non-profit entity tasked with managing the .ORG top-level domain, removes the price cap on .ORG registrations, meaning any price can be charged by any registrar.

o A few months later, Ethos, an investment firm, buys the .ORG operation by purchasing PIR, the non-profit entity that controls it.

Sounds like a neoliberal wet dream come true to me.

The article emphasizes that so far no connection between Chehade and Ethos has been established or acknowledged, but note well that Ethos has not responded to requests for information on the connection — when a simple denial would have sufficed. I think The Register is right to smell a rat.

In the meantime, any poor, cash-strapped non-profit with a .ORG domain name — for example, sierraclub.org, to pick just one of literally millions — is best advised to renew its registration for the maximum time allowed, and do it now.
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Old 2019-11-29, 19:57   #2
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Help Stop the Sale of Public Interest Registry to a Private Equity Firm | EFF
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Old 2019-11-29, 20:13   #3
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I would have added myself to the list but it wants a 5 or 9 digit Zip Code. No such thing exists where I am.

Hey EFF, sorry to shock you, but other places exist outside of the USA.
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Old 2019-11-29, 20:31   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by retina View Post
I would have added myself to the list but it wants a 5 or 9 digit Zip Code. No such thing exists where I am.

Hey EFF, sorry to shock you, but other places exist outside of the USA.
To the right of the Zip Code field is a "outside the US" widget - click that and the Zip code field goes away and is replaced by City.
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Old 2019-11-29, 20:37   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ewmayer View Post
To the right of the Zip Code field is a "outside the US" widget - click that and the Zip code field goes away and is replaced by City.
Nope. I don't see that anywhere.

Looking at the codez I see this:
Code:
<span class="intl-toggler pull-right hidden-if-no-js eff-button">Outside the US?</span>
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Old 2019-11-29, 20:52   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by retina View Post
Nope. I don't see that anywhere.

Looking at the codez I see this:
Code:
<span class="intl-toggler pull-right hidden-if-no-js eff-button">Outside the US?</span>
Yes, you have to enable JS to sign the petition. So what?
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Old 2019-11-29, 20:58   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ewmayer View Post
Yes, you have to enable JS to sign the petition. So what?
I don't allow unaudited untrusted code to run in my system. That's what.

I wish there was some sort of HTML standard that had forms natively ...
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Old 2019-11-29, 22:00   #8
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mersenne.org renewed for 5 more years. In December I can renew for 2 more.
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Old 2019-11-30, 08:57   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by retina View Post
I don't allow unaudited untrusted code to run in my system. That's what.

I wish there was some sort of HTML standard that had forms natively ...
  • Use someone else's system.
  • Fire up a disposable virtual machine and use that.

Last fiddled with by xilman on 2019-11-30 at 10:01 Reason: Convert to [LIST] format
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Old 2019-11-30, 09:43   #10
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For an emergency /etc/hosts file:

162.212.57.131 mersenne.org
216.92.123.112 mersenneforum.org
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Old 2020-07-19, 21:54   #11
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Thankfully, ICANN blocked the proposed sale on 1 May. Note EFF's comments in item #9:
Quote:
ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, on Friday decided to block the sale of the organisation that oversees the .org top-level domain to a private equity investment company, saying it would “create unacceptable uncertainty” in the future. ICANN is a non-profit American organisation that regulates standards for how website addresses work, so that the Internet can function as a global platform used by anyone in the world across billions of devices...

9. Several former ICANN members currently serve as executives of Ethos Capital and one of its subsidiaries, a domain name registrar called Donuts. According to the EFF, Ethos Capital refused to disclose details of how it would manage PIR's debt and profits, and has called its management structure “Byzantine” and “suspicious”.
Now we find that there was personal-enrichment crookery behind the scheme not just on the part of the above former ICANN members, but also on the part of the ICANN CEO who was so keen to make the sale:

Former ICANN CEO is now co-CEO of the private equity firm that tried to buy .org | DomainWire
Quote:
Former ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé is currently listed as the co-CEO of Ethos Capital on the firm’s website.

Ethos Capital tried to buy Public Interest Registry, the non-profit that runs .org domains, but ICANN denied the transaction.

Chehadé’s name was nowhere on Ethos’ website when it announced the .org transaction. His involvement quickly became public because of Whois data for one of Ethos Capital’s domain names. The private equity company admitted that Chehadé was an advisor on the deal.

For months, the Ethos Capital website listed only two employees: CEO Erik Brooks and Chief Purpose Officer Nora Abusitta-Ouri. Abusitta-Ouri worked with Chehadé at ICANN.

The website change listing Chehadé as co-CEO appears to have happened very recently. The last Wayback Machine capture from June 15 did not show him. Elliot Silver spotted the difference today.

Many industry observers may wonder if Chehadé was pegged to be a co-CEO all along, only omitted from the website to avoid more controversy. [EWM: 'controversy'? Try blatant failure to disclose a material personal interest.]

Ethos’ website now lists eight employees, three of whom are former ICANN employees. Allen Grogan is Executive Partner and is the former Chief Contract Compliance Officer at ICANN. Grogan’s LinkedIn page says he started advising Ethos last September; his involvement was disclosed after ICANN requested information on former ICANN employees involved with the company.
Hacker News discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23878508. Best comment is one of the shortest: "This is what Ralph Nader would call a "deferred bribe"."
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