The dot-org domain extension was established as one of the first top-level domains in 1985 alongside dot-com, dot-net and a handful of others. In 2002, administration over the domain was awarded to the Public Interest Registry (PIR), a non-profit established by the Internet Society (ISOC), to run the extension. PIR recently announced that it was being purchased by Ethos Capital, a private equity firm that includes a former CEO of ICANN among its founders. With a rumoured purchase price of over $1 billion dollars, there is big money for ISOC but the deal has left the non-profit community worried about potential price increases and policy changes to the domain that could impact online speech. Elliot Harmon, Activism Director with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, recently wrote about the issue and has been working on a campaign with NGOs around the world opposed to the deal. He joined on the podcast to discuss the background behind dot-org, the concerns with the sale, and what can be done about it.
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The Trouble with the TPP series explores Internet-related issues this week, starting with the surprising inclusion of Internet governance in a trade deal. The debate over Internet governance for much of the past decade has often come down to a battle between ICANN and the ITU (a UN body), which in turn is characterized as a choice between a private-sector led, bottoms-up, consensus model (ICANN) or a governmental-controlled approach. Canada (along with countries like the U.S. and Australia) have consistently sided with the ICANN-model, arguing for a multi-stakeholder approach with limited government intervention. In fact, at the 2014 NetMundial conference, the Canadian government stated:
The multistakeholder model of Internet governance has been a key driver in the success of the Internet to date. Canada firmly supports this model and believes it must continue to be the foundation for all discussions in order to preserve the Internet’s open architecture. Canada firmly supports strengthening this model. Government centric approaches would stifle the innovation and dynamism associated with the Internet.
The Trouble with the TPP is that it contradicts Canada’s longstanding policy on Internet governance. While Canada, the U.S. and other TPP countries urge the governments of the world to take a hands-off approach to the Internet, the TPP opens the door to country-code domain intervention (note that I am on the board of the Canadian Internet Registration Authority, which manages the dot-ca domain).
The Canadian Internet Registration Authority, the organization that manages the dot-ca domain, launched its annual board of director election earlier today. The week-long vote is open to all registered members (anyone with a dot-ca domain registration can become a registered member for free, but must have become a member before the start of the election in order to vote). I was voted onto the board in 2012 and have been nominated to serve as another term by the nominating committee. I need your support as I find myself on the ballot alongside some excellent candidates this year, including former CRTC Chair Konrad von Finckenstein, former Industry Canada executive Helen McDonald, community organizer Marita Moll, and current board members such as CNOC’s Bill Sandiford and Bill Gibson.
I hope that all dot-ca members will take the time to vote since the CIRA board plays an important role on a wide range of digital policy issues, including Internet governance. When I ran for the CIRA board in 2012, I made my primary goal very clear: CIRA generates considerable revenues, has a public interest mandate, and should actively engage the Canadian public in fulfillment of that mandate.
The Canadian Internet Registration Authority has launched another round of its Community Investment Program (I am on the CIRA board and chair the committee that reviews funding applications). Last year, the CIP allocated over $1 million in funding toward 29 different proposals that included support for infrastructure, new online services, research initiatives, and digital literacy programs. Those projects are still ongoing but that has not stopped CIRA from opening the door to a new round of funding. The application system is now open with applications accepted until March 6, 2015. Apply today!
The annual election for the Canadian Internet Registration Authority board of directors opened last week, with voting ongoing until September 24th. All CIRA members (anyone with a dot-ca domain is eligible to become a member) are entitled to vote. I am currently a member of the board having been elected in 2012. Over the past year, CIRA has made great strides in better fulfilling its public interest mandate, most notably by launching the Community Investment Program. The CIP provided grants to 29 organizations for Internet and technology related projects, allocating over $1 million in the process. I was the chair of the committee and was proud of the wide range of projects and initiatives that will benefit from CIRA funding.