Internet Society Chosen as New .org Registry Operator
On October 14, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) Board of Directors voted 11-1 to appoint the Internet Society (ISOC) as the new operator for the .org domain name registry-- currently the fifth most popular domain space, encompassing over 2 million registered domain namesWith three abstentions, the ICANN board chose the ISOC proposal among 11 bids received and evaluated through a process extending the better part of 2002. ISOC, formed in 1991, is a membership group of over 11,000 Internet professionals and more than 150 organizations in 182 countries, which coordinates Internet infrastructure standards setting and implementation through its Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and the Internet Architecture Board (IAB).
Under a revised May 2001 agreement with ICANN and the U.S. Department of Commerce, the current operator, VeriSign, will hand over control of the top-level domain at the end of the year, with operations officially beginning on January 1, 2003. It will also relinquish exclusive control of the .net domain name registry in 2005. Unlike the .org handoff, however, VeriSign will also be able to bid to retain control.
Three evaluation teams, independent of one another, analyzed the technical and overall soundness of the proposals. Another review provided by the ICANN Non Commercial Domain Name Holders Constituency, looked at effectiveness of the proposals in addressing the unique needs of the existing .org registrants, especially nonprofit and community group stakeholders. The public also had a chance to voice its opinion on the specific proposals via e-mail, and to share its ongoing thoughts regarding the overall .org domain reassignment process through an online forum
ISOC's proposal had received two earlier recommendations from the ICANN staff during summer 2002. Critics, especially a number of competing proposals, alleged both that ISOC had a questionable record fo financial health and enjoyed too close a relationship between the ICANN board and the ISOC. The ICANN board ultimately reviewed supplemental information from all bids before reaffirming the staff recommendations.
ISOC set up a new separate organization, Public Interest Registry (PIR), to handle the actual registry operations. PIR will subcontract with Afilias, he operator of the .info domain name space, to help support the transfer and support of the .org domain. VeriSign is obligated to endow the new operator with US$5 million towards operating and transfer expenses, in exchange for continued control of its lucrative .com domain name registry business.