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The Internet Society's .Org Bid 

FAQ

Updated 23 August, 2002

ICANN staff preliminary recommendation: ISOC to manage .ORG This preliminary report follows an extensive bidding and evaluation process.

ISOC Statement in response to questions received about its bid and the ICANN staff preliminary recommendation

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  1. What are the strengths of ISOC's proposal for .ORG?
  2. Is ISOC financially prepared to support .ORG?
  3. Will funds from .ORG pay for ISOC programs?
  4. What kind of support has ISOC received for its .ORG proposal?
  5. Are members of the ICANN board also members of ISOC?
  6. What is your response to comments that ICANN has wanted to give .ORG to ISOC for more than two years, and that ISOC was a "shoe-in"?
  7. You propose to establish a new not-for-profit corporation, called Public Interest Registry (PIR) to run the registry. How can ICANN award a registry to a company that doesn't even exist?
  8. How does ISOC elect its leadership?
  9. What is a top-level domain (TLD)?
  10. What is a domain name registry?
  11. Why is the .ORG registry being reallocated?
  12. How many .ORG names are there currently?
  13. Does ISOC propose any major changes to .ORG?
  14. How would ISOC run the .ORG registry?
  15. How much money would ISOC take in? What would the money be used for? Are there any risks?

Why does the Internet Society want to run the .ORG registry?

ISOC's mission is to assure the open development, evolution, and use of the Internet for the benefit of all people throughout the world. ISOC does this as both as an end in itself, and as a means of enabling organizations, professions, and individuals worldwide to more effectively collaborate, cooperate, and innovate in their respective fields and interests.

We believe this is in full harmony with the purpose of .ORG, which is the top-level domain associated with noncommercial entities. With its long history of service to the Internet, and the enthusiasm and expertise of its members, ISOC believes that it will make an effective steward for the .ORG domain.

What are the strengths of ISOC's proposal for .ORG?

We feel strongly that ISOC is uniquely qualified to enhance the .ORG domain. ISOC's mission is wholly consistent with .ORG's noncommercial philosophy and our plans for .ORG will enable it to flourish as a truly global home dedicated to serving the unique interests of noncommercial organizations on the Internet. In addition, we expect to be able to add significant value to the registry space in total, given our roots, values and technical knowledge.

Should the ICANN staff's preliminary recommendation be approved, ISOC will form a new not-for-profit company to run the .ORG registry - the "Public Interest Registry" (PIR) - whose Board will be appointed by ISOC, but which will operate independently, giving each company the necessary room to fulfill their separate but complementary missions. There are three unique strengths in the ISOC proposal:

  • First, as the foremost not-for-profit focused on Internet issues, ISOC has a globally diverse membership (11,000 individuals in 182 countries, 65% of members are from outside of North America) and Board of Directors (59% from outside of North America). ISOC will be a responsible and knowledgeable steward for the .ORG domain. We believe that ISOC's globally representative Board and membership will allow us to support PIR in a way that will leverage insights pertinent to the challenges and concerns of regions across the world. This is further evidenced by the more than 600 letters of support ISOC has received to date from over 85 countries.
  • Second, ISOC's proposal also clearly outlines a plan to revitalize .ORG, based on its own expertise in the Internet and noncommercial communities, and this will further .ORG's heritage as the home of noncommercial entities on the Internet. This plan includes a global marketing and public relations program focused on educating noncommercial organizations around the world on the uses of the Internet, and the development of other input mechanisms such as a .ORG Advisory Council and various Web-based tools and features. These will allow .ORG registrants to have a role in the management of .ORG that is absent today. These are areas where ISOC's own experiences as a noncommercial membership organization will be very valuable.
  • Third, ISOC has contracted with Afilias, who currently runs and operates .INFO, the most successful of the new TLDs launched. Afilias has unmatched experience in running and operating a large-scale EPP-based gTLD registry. PIR and Afilias will modernize .ORG with new technical standards by upgrading the registry system to support the new, faster EPP protocol and reducing registration to resolution time from hours to minutes. In addition, the proposal includes new registry services such as name locking, site linking, directory, and ID certification designed to deliver tailored, valuable services to meet the unique needs of .ORG registrants.

Overall, we believe ISOC's experience as a not-for-profit organization combined with our expertise in the Internet area, and therefore resultant familiarity with the noncommercial community's problems and needs, coupled with Afilias' expertise as a stable and proven back end provider, enables us to fully meet all the criteria set forth by the ICANN Board.

Is ISOC financially prepared to support .ORG?

Yes. We have arrangements in place that will allow us to fulfill our responsibilities to .ORG without financial difficulty, and both ISOC and Afilias (our chosen back-end service provider) are in a sound position to implement the bid in a timely and secure manner.

As our proposal states, PIR will be a separate legal entity, it will have a separate Board and distinctly separate operations. PIR, not ISOC, will enter into the registry management agreement with ICANN, will carry out the registry functions and will have no financial dependence on ISOC, and vice versa.

The agreement between Afilias and PIR will ensure that adequate funds are available to support the transition. Under the terms of our agreement, Afilias will cover the start-up and transition costs and will be repaid by PIR for these expenses over the course of our agreement.

Also, .ORG is scheduled to transition to its new manager on January 1, 2003. From that day forward, the new .ORG manager (PIR if ISOC is selected) will collect fees for every newly registered and renewed .ORG domain name--a reliable cash flow beginning just a few months from now.

As a not-for-profit, member-funded organization, ISOC deals with the same challenges and variables that most not-for-profits face from time to time. As previously disclosed, in 1999 ISOC sustained losses incurred by our annual conference and developing country education workshops. This loss was forecasted at the time, but we made the conscious decision to continue with these important activities. ISOC has since made various moves that have significantly strengthened our financial footing, enabling it to steadily improve over the last two years. Last year, we posted a healthy net surplus of US$152,382. Over the 10 years of our incorporated existence, ISOC has weathered a few challenges and has always continued to function as a strong and productive organization.

Will funds from .ORG pay for ISOC programs?

As a separate, not-for-profit entity, PIR will support .ORG operations, service improvements, and the marketing and other outreach programs detailed in the proposal. Some of these programs will leverage ISOC's proven mechanisms, enabling PIR's outreach to commence without a lengthy start up period. Disposition of any surplus funds will be at the sole discretion of the PIR Board.

What kind of support has ISOC received for its .ORG proposal?

So far, ISOC has received more than 600 letters of support from 85 countries, and was the only bidder to be awarded a "high" geographic diversity score by the Noncommercial Domain Name Holders Constituency evaluation report.

While many of the support letters come from ISOC members, hundreds of letters have also come from associations, institutions, and many individual .ORG registrants from around the globe.

Are members of the ICANN board also members of ISOC?

Yes. In fact, 10 of the 18 ICANN Board members are also ISOC members. ISOC has more than 10,000 individual members, and it is the oldest, best known, not-for-profit devoted to the open development, evolution, and use of the Internet. It's also the organizational home for the groups responsible for Internet infrastructure standards. It's therefore not surprising that many Internet community leaders are members of ISOC.

None of the ICANN board members are on ISOC's Board of Trustees, or vice versa.

What is your response to comments that ICANN has wanted to give .ORG to ISOC for more than two years, and that ISOC was a shoe-in?

These comments are baseless. The ICANN process for selecting a new .ORG manager has been very transparent and inclusive. ICANN was scrupulously independent, employing evaluation teams from the Non Commercial Domain Name Holders Constituency, the respected Gartner Group, and an international team of Chief Information Officers from major academic institutions. The evaluation teams did not confer with the ICANN board before presenting their findings. All evaluations and criteria have been openly published, and ICANN continues to solicit public comment.

ISOC's proposal was carefully developed, and we believe best meets all the criteria ICANN set forth at the outset of the process. As a point of fact, the preliminary ICANN staff report mentioned three potential registry successors, and clearly identified ISOC as the recommended successor. We believe the ICANN Board will make its decision based on the careful assessment of the proposals by each evaluation team and a review of the public comment period. We also believe that ISOC will be the most qualified, stable, and responsible registry operator.

You propose to establish a new not-for-profit corporation, called Public Interest Registry (PIR) to run the registry. How can ICANN award a registry to a company that doesn't even exist?

ICANN chose seven new TLD registry operators in November 2000, many of which were not in formal existence at the time of selection. All of the new TLD registries were able to successfully build and then manage rapidly growing businesses. We feel ISOC's long heritage and commitment to the Internet, along with Afilias' experience in registry management services, will be the appropriate foundation for PIR to build a strong and successful business.

How does ISOC elect its leadership?

In order to create a more fair and representative governance structure, the ISOC board voted to change its governance model late last year. The board was previously comprised of Trustees elected by individual ISOC members. ISOC's bylaws and policies now call for its Trustees to be elected by:

  • ISOC's Chapters (which are composed of its individual members)
  • ISOC's Organization Members (which include not-for-profit, for-profit, educational entities and international entities), and
  • Technical standards community as represented by the IETF/IAB.

The decision to move to this new governance model was debated thoroughly and then approved by ISOC's Board, which had been elected 100% by individual members. The majority of ISOC's current Board was elected by its chapters and individual members.

At the same time that the governance model was changed, ISOC made its individual memberships free at a central level. The goal was to give more people around the world the opportunity to become involved in ISOC's activities, all of which serve to expand the understanding and use of the Internet worldwide. Another goal was to further empower the chapters.

These changes ensure that the board will include representation from all of ISOC's constituencies and we feel that this is a more equitable arrangement. In the eight months since this change, ISOC has virtually doubled its membership, and we believe this is simply the start of a larger and even more inclusive, vibrant ISOC.

ISOC's bylaws, articles of incorporation, Trustees, and other relevant materials are available on its Web site at: http://www.isoc.org/.

What is a top-level domain (TLD)?

A "top-level" domain is what comes after the last dot in a domain name. Commonly known top-level domains include .COM, .NET, .ORG, and .INFO. There are also country-specific top-level domains, such as .UK for the United Kingdom and .JP for Japan.

What is a domain name registry?

A registry is the entity that maintains the master database of domain names for a particular top-level domain (TLD). ISOC is bidding to become the registry for .ORG.

The registry receives domain name information from registrars, who register domain names on behalf of registrants -- people like you who would like to register and use a domain name. The registry puts that information into the "zone file," which allows computers to route Internet traffic to and from domains around the world. The registry operates the TLD on a day-to-day basis.

Why is the .ORG registry being reallocated?

VeriSign Global Registry Services has been the registry for .COM, .NET, and .ORG for a number of years, and its contract with ICANN expires on December 31, 2002. One of ICANN's core principles is the encouragement of competition at both the registrar and registry levels. Under this principle, ICANN has accepted proposals for the reassignment of the .ORG top-level domain from VeriSign to a successor entity.

ICANN is now considering the bids. ICANN's draft contract can be found here.

How many .ORG names are there currently?

There are approximately 2.4 million .ORG names currently registered.

Does ISOC propose any major changes to .ORG?

ISOC does not advocate any significant departures for how .ORG names are currently registered or used, how disputes are solved, etc. ISOC does see .ORG as an important resource and will advocate strongly for its use as a home for noncommercial interests on the Internet.

How would ISOC run the .ORG registry?

If its proposal is accepted by ICANN, ISOC proposes to form a not-for-profit corporation called Public Interest Registry ("PIR"). PIR will be a separate corporation, with its directors named by ISOC

ISOC also proposes the formation of a .ORG Advisory Council to be composed of prominent members of the noncommercial community. The Advisory Board would provide policy advice on major .ORG domain management issues. Also, ISOC/PIR proposes the establishment of community input and discussion mechanisms on its Web site.

PIR will contract with Afilias, a company with a proven back-office registry system. Under PIR's direction, Afilias would handle the .ORG registry's back end (including database services, zone file generation, customer service, technical support, and so on). Contracting with a proven partner like Afilias is necessary, since the new operator of .ORG must have a demonstrated capability to operate a registry of significant scale in a stable and effective manner. Afilias is an ISOC Organization Member.

How much money would ISOC take in? What would the money be used for? Are there any risks?

UPDATE: Various questions we've received indicate that our original answer (below) may have lead to some misunderstandings. We have updated this FAQ to more accurately reflect the text of our proposal.

ISOC is a not-for-profit corporation that is operated exclusively for educational, charitable, and scientific purposes. Should the bid be successful, ISOC will form the Public Interest Registry (PIR) as a separate not-for-profit company to manage the .ORG registry. PIR will support .ORG operations, service improvements, and the marketing and other outreach programs detailed in the proposal. Some of these programs will leverage ISOC's proven mechanisms, enabling PIR's outreach to commence without a lengthy startup period. Disposition of any surplus funds will be at the sole discretion of the PIR Board.

Currently, VeriSign Registry receives US$6.00 per .ORG domain name registered, per year of registration. ISOC's PIR proposes to keep this amount the same if its bid is successful. ISOC's PIR will pay part of each registration to Afilias for its services. (See: ISOC Proposal Section VIII, Part E for details on the outreach/marketing programs)

Previous answer: ISOC is a nonprofit corporation that is operated exclusively for educational, charitable, and scientific purposes. Should the bid be successful, revenues will be used to support ISOC programs, which serve the Internet and Internet users throughout the world. Currently, VeriSign Registry receives US$6.00 per .ORG domain name registered, per year of registration. ISOC proposes that this amount remain the same if its bid is successful. ISOC will pay part of each registration to Afilias for its services. The .ORG registry represents a stable, renewable source of revenue. In our view, this is a win-win for ISOC and all of our constituencies.

Questions?

If you have additional questions, we'd like to hear from you. Please write to us at orginfo@isoc.org