El Reg has quizzed Andrew Sullivan, the president and CEO of the Internet Society (ISOC), about his organistion’s decision to sell the non-profit .org registry to private equity outfit Ethos Capital.
We have previously covered the controversy over the proposed sale, the continued failure of ISOC and DNS overseer ICANN to answer detailed questions, and efforts by both to push the deal forward even while opposition to it grows.
Your correspondant asked Sullivan whether he expected the amount of criticism from the internet community that has erupted in recent days.
“I did expect some people to be unhappy with the decision, I expected some pushback,” he told The Register, adding: “But the level of pushback has been very strong.”
He was aware, he says, that people would not like two key aspects of the decision: the move from a non-profit model to a for-profit one; and the lack of consultation. He had explanations ready for both: “The registry business is still a business, and this represented a really big opportunity, and one that is good for PIR [Public Interest Registry].”
As for the lack of consultation: “We didn’t go looking for this. If we had done that [consulted publicly about the sale .org], the opportunity would have been lost. If we had done it in public, it would have created a lot of uncertainty without any benefit.”
But when we pressed him on the fact that the concerns seem much deeper and broader than that – one ISOC Chapter has accused the organization of “severely harming” its reputation “by even contemplating this transaction” – he rejected the idea.
“I think claims that there has been an outpouring of support against the sale are overblown. If you look there is a relatively small number of people complaining. We may be overstating the feeling; most people haven’t noticed. Most people don’t care one way or another.”
It’s hard to simultaneously argue that there was no need for consultation and then claim that the lack of responses indicates implicit approval, we note. More importantly, though, what about the 10 million registrants of .org, the vast majority of which are unlikely to hear about the sale at all and who likely bought their .org domain precisely because it represented a non-profit ethos?