Posts Tagged ‘Tim Berners-Lee’

The favourite domain of human rights NGOs, “.ORG”, at risk

January 27, 2020

David Gilbert in Vice.com of 24 January and Caitlin Harrington in the The Cascadia Advocate of 26 January 2020 (among others) address an important issue that could affect many human righs NGOs and thus human rights defenders. A private equity fund (backed by three prominent Republican billionaire families) is expected to buy the dot-org domain, throwing into question whether the online safe haven for rights organizations and nonprofits could now face censorship or spiralling costs. Ethos Capital has offered $1 billion for the domain, which is currently operated by a nonprofit.

[Back in the fall of 2019, the private equity firm Ethos Capital announced its plans to buy the Public Interest Registry (PIR) for more than $1 billion. PIR is owned by the Internet Society and manages the .ORG domain registry, which since 1985 has been used by nonprofits and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) like the Northwest Progressive Institute (NPI). Dot org is what is known as top layer domain… the last part of a uniform resource locator (URL), or web address. For example, nwprogressive.org. Dot-org is home to over 10 million URLs, making it the third-largest domain on the internet today. A huge variety of organizations use the domain ending, from massive multinational organizations like UNICEF to local libraries and animal shelters. PIR is a nonprofit entity that has been managing the registry and setting the prices that owners pay when they register .ORG domains.]

In a letter to the Internet Society from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an ally of NPI that opposes the sale, it was explained that this move could cause significant harm to nonprofits and NGOs. They argue that without oversight from an appropriate placement, the registry would have the power to make policy changes that would detrimental to .ORG stakeholders, including:

  • The power to raise .org registration fees without the approval of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) or the .ORG community. A .ORG price hike would put many cash-strapped NGOs in the difficult position of either paying the increased fees or losing the legitimacy and brand recognition of a .ORG domain. [Yearly fees for .ORG sites are, on average, between $10 to $20.]
  • The power to develop and implement Rights Protection Mechanisms unilaterally, without consulting the .org community. If such mechanisms are not carefully crafted in collaboration with the NGO community, they risk censoring completely legal nonprofit activities.
  • The power to implement processes to suspend domain names based on accusations of “activity contrary to applicable law. ”The .ORG registry should not implement such processes without understanding how state actors frequently target NGOs with allegations of illegal activity.

NPI cosigned EFF’s letter, with NPI’s founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve explaining: “The pending sale is of great concern to NPI because we own a significant number of .org domains. We could be affected by price hikes and bad policies imposed by the proposed new owner.”…….Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, was among those expressing grave concern and opposition at the time the sale was announced.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation also made the point in their letter opposing the sale, that back in 2002, amid similar talks of selling the .ORG registry, ISOC’s then president and CEO Lynn St. Amour assured the NGOs worldwide that the registry would continue to be accountable to the nonprofit sector.

Erik Brooks, founder and CEO of Ethos Capital, stated in a public blog post that the firm is investing in “the long-term vitality of .ORG and its users” and that “PIR’s partnership with Ethos will create new opportunities for PIR to provide enhanced services and support to the .ORG community.” He also promised that these enhanced services will be developed “in collaboration with the community.” But last month, ICANN published documents with the names of three directors of Ethos Capital involved in the sale redacted, which only deepened the concerns of nonprofits and NGOs.

….Tarleton argued the Washington Secretary of State’s office should be forcefully opposing the sale and calling attention to it. “This is the slippery slope of privatization that happens when no one is paying attention,” she warned.

….“We’re confident that this is in the best interests of the registry, in the best interests of the registrants, and in the best interest of the whole internet,” Andrew Sullivan, CEO of the Internet Society, a nonprofit that oversees the domain, told VICE News. But critics of the move say the promises made by Ethos Capital are not backed by any legal obligations. They also say there’s a problematic lack of transparency about the sale and who will be running the new organization overseeing the domain. So a group of respected internet pioneers and nonprofit leaders have come forward to offer an alternative proposition. But they don’t have $1 billion to offer.

This week the Internet Society and ICANN approved a 30-day extension to the process, giving both sides until 20 February to approve the sale. “This is by far the largest outpouring of public concern ICANN has ever seen,” Malthouse said. “It’s a huge opportunity for ICANN to prove it has the courage to stand behind its founding principles.”

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/wxenaz/3-billionaire-republican-families-are-about-to-buy-the-dot-org-domain-thats-terrifying-nonprofits

NPI’s Gael Tarleton warns proposed sale of .ORG domain registry could harm nonprofits

International Human Rights Day celebrated in Geneva on 5 December with Tim Berners-Lee

December 3, 2013

International Human Rights Day this year marks the 20th anniversary of the UN Human Rights Office and will be celebrated with events around the world throughout the week, including a day of discussions on 5 December in Geneva on a range of pressing human rights issues. Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web and founder of the World Wide Web Foundation, will join UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay in a discussion over access to the Web and the balance between security and privacy online. Sir Tim Berners-Lee has been working to ensure that the World Wide Web is made freely available to all, and to establish the Web as a global public good and a basic right. The discussion will be moderated by prominent TV presenter Tim Sebastian, former host of the BBCs Hardtalk programme. The High Commissioner and the President of the Human Rights Council, Remigiusz Achilles Henczel will also deliver speeches at the opening of the event. Hina Jilani, former Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders and Christof Heyns, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, will lead panel discussions on protecting the space for human rights defenders and building a vision for an effective human rights system over the next 20 years and beyond. Panelists will also engage on the importance of ensuring the participation and inclusion of all individuals, regardless of their background or status, in the economic and political life of a State. The panels will be moderated by journalist Ghida Fakhry Khane, who was until recently one of the primary anchors for Al Jazeera English. Civil society representatives from Zimbabwe, Colombia, Tunisia and Norway will also lend their perspectives and rich experience to the discussions. The day will end with a performance by renowned musician Salif Keita, from Mali. Known as the “Golden Voice of Africa“, Mr. Keita was born with albinism and, in 2005, founded the Salif Keita Global Foundation to raise awareness about albinism.

The event will be held on Thursday, 5 December 2013, at the Palais des Nations in Room XX, from 9h30 to 17h00. The full programme and biographies of the participants can be found on http://at20.ohchr.org/events.html.

via Human Rights Day – 20 years of working for your rights – World News Report.