French Ambassador for Digital Affairs writes to ICANN on .org sale

Henri Verdier, Ambassador for Digital Affairs in the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs has sent a letter to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) expressing concerns over the proposed sale of the .org registry to investment company Ethos Capital. The letter notes that consumer interest and respect for the rule of law are likely to be negatively impacted by the sale, which could diverge from the criteria established by ICANN during the .org reallocation in 2002. Concerns are expressed over the possibility that a private entity in control of .org could increase prices, sell user data without obtaining prior express agreement, or take measures with potential impact on freedom of expression. Moreover, it is said that certain elements of the sale pose reputational risks both for ICANN and for governments represented on ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC). Finally, ICANN is asked to (a) provide its detailed opinion on the proposed transaction and any alternative that may be considered, and (b) allow the GAC to consider the sale more carefully and make potential recommendations before ICANN gives its approval.