ICANN Halts .Org Sale To Private Equity Group

ICANN Halts .Org Sale To Private Equity Group

ICANN Halts .Org Sale To Private Equity Group

Domain supervisor ICANN ‘withholds consent’ for the sale of the .org domain registry to a private equity firm, following months of protests

Internet supervisor ICANN has confirmed it is withholding ‘consent for a change of control of the Public Interest Registry (PIR).’

Arguments have been raged since November 2019, when it was revealed the current owner of the .org registry, the Internet Society, planned to sell the domain to newly formed equity group Ethos Capital for a $1bn endowment.

In December 2019, ICANN said it “does not have the authority” to act on the matter, since its role is only to “assure the continued operation of the .org domain”.

Consent withdrawn

The Internet Society, for its part, had said the sale of the .org registry would provide it with “sustainable funding” to continue its work on internet-related standards, education, access and policy.

But protesters of the deal including California’s Attorney General, warned that changes to the .org Registry Agreement could allow the registry’s owner to do significant harm to the global NGO sector, intentionally or not.

Also, many protestors were unhappy that Ethos Capital never fully disclosed who its directors or investors were.

And some of the world’s largest non-profit organisations, were worried their online addresses were going to be exploited for profit.

But now ICANN’s board has announced it decision to withhold consent for the sale.

“Today, the ICANN Board made the decision to reject the proposed change of control and entity conversion request that Public Interest Registry (PIR) submitted to ICANN,” it said.

“After completing extensive due diligence, the ICANN Board finds that withholding consent of the transfer of PIR from the Internet Society (ISOC) to Ethos Capital is reasonable, and the right thing to do,” it said.

The Board said that the proposed sale impacted one of the largest registries with more than 10.5 million domain names registered.

“After completing its evaluation, the ICANN Board finds that the public interest is better served in withholding consent as a result of various factors that create unacceptable uncertainty over the future of the third largest gTLD registry,” it said.

Coronavirus: BT Halts Home-Visits Broadband Engineers

Coronavirus: BT Halts Home-Visits Broadband Engineers

BT Openreach engineers will no longer visit homes to install new broadband connections, but exceptions will be made for the vulnerable

BT Openreach has warned that its engineers will avoid entering customer premises for new broadband connections, in light of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

This means that engineers will no longer install new broadband connections when a home visit is involved. However it will still do so if it left a vulnerable person with no other form of communication

It comes amid concerns about bandwidth during the Coronavirus pandemic. This has led to major streaming platforms including Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, Facebook and Disney to lower the quality of their video content to ease bandwidth concerns expressed by some EU officials.

Wiltshire and South Gloucestershire broadband project
Wiltshire and South Gloucestershire broadband project

Home visits

Since the public emergency caused by the pandemic, BT has maintained that there is plenty of capacity in the UK’s networks.

Howard Watson, chief technology and information officer for BT Group, stated last week that the carrier “has more than enough capacity” in its UK network.

“Even if the same heavy data traffic that we see each evening were to run throughout the daytime, there is still enough capacity for work applications to run simultaneously,” he reportedly said.

But BT now instead of home visits, it will focus its efforts on other “essential work” in its updated guidance about what do to if an engineer is to visit.

“Our number one priority is to keep people connected, and we’ve been working closely with our Communications Provider customers to minimise the impact that the Government’s new restrictions have on the services we can provide,” said BT.

“We know that what Openreach does is critical, and connecting people has never been more important,” the former UK incumbent said. “That’s why many of our roles have been given ‘key worker’ status.”

Essential work

BT said that its engineers can do a lot of the work outside a person’s house.

“That said, the safety of our people and the public comes first and, based on the new guidance, we’re now prioritising essential work,” BT said. “That means we’re focussing on the repair and maintenance of connections that support critical national infrastructure, essential public services, vulnerable customers and those without service. And our CP customers are helping us to identify and prioritise these groups.”

“We’ve also advised our engineers to avoid entering customer premises,” said BT. “A large amount of our work we do can be completed outside, and we can often fix problems without entering a customer’s property – so we’re advising them not to complete any work inside a property unless it would leave a vulnerable customer with no form of connection, and it’s not possible to provide one by any other means.”

It has been reported that Virgin Media, which has its own network separate to that of BT, is still allowing home visits by its engineers, providing customers are not self-isolating.

Last week BT chief executive Philip Jansen confirmed he had been diagnosed with Covid-19 (Coronavirus) and has gone into self-isolation.

It is reported that this was the first publicly confirmed case of a FTSE 100 boss being infected with Coronavirus.

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