The Benton Foundation believes that the next registrar
of the .org space should actively engage the .org community, as well as provide funding
and tools for nonprofit capacity building and bridging the digital divide.
Therefore, we support Register.com in its current bid to become registrar of the
Established in 1981, the Benton Foundation seeks to articulate a public
interest vision for the digital age and to demonstrate the value of communications
for solving social problems. Our work seeks to promote digital opportunity
– to help give citizens the skills and tools they need to take full advantage of
digital technologies to improve quality of life in their communities.
One of the
Benton Foundation’s most high-profile initiatives is the Digital Divide Network,
or DDN (www.digitaldividenetwork.org). Established in 1999, DDN is the Internet’s
premiere online community for discussing the digital divide and developing strategies
for promoting digital opportunity. Its online discussion forum, DIGITALDIVIDE,
currently includes a membership of over 3,000 practitioners and policymakers, one-quarter
of who are from outside the US.
In May, the Benton Foundation launched its latest
portal, the Digital Opportunity Channel (www.digitalopportunity.org). Created
in partnership with OneWorld South Asia, the channel addresses the digital divide
internationally, with a particular interest in the developing world. Our partnership
with OneWorld unites us with a network of over 1,250 NGOs around the world, many
of whom work specifically on digital divide and global development issues.
The Digital Opportunity Channel will serve as a platform for these organizations,
providing them with a platform to share news, research and resources for bridging
the digital divide and empowering nonprofits through the Internet.
of the Digital Divide Network and the Digital Opportunity Channel, we believe strongly
that the Internet represents an unparalleled sea changed in the way nonprofits conduct
their programmatic work. Nonprofits have helped make the .org space a precious
national and international resource unlike the many commercial spaces on the Internet.
We believe that the .org registrar must be committed wholeheartedly to managing this
space – and perhaps more importantly, to give back to it, by supporting nonprofit
capacity building efforts and programmatic activities seeking to bridge the digital
Each entity that owns a .org address, from the largest nonprofit organization
to an individual seeking to carve out his or her own public interest space on the
Internet, deserves to have a .org registrar that is committed to improving and expanding
the .org space. The .org registrar should provide .org address owners with
the tools, information and resources needed to become better engaged in policies
that affect the .org space. The .org space as a whole is only as strong as
the many organizations represented within it, and the next .org registrar should
be committed to strengthening nonprofits’ involvement in that space.
Register.com’s commitment to create an online commons for .org registrants to participate
in policy discussions and share capacity building resources, as well as its commitment
to give $2.5 million annually to nonprofits seeking to bridge the digital divide.
We offer this letter in strong support of their bid to manage the .org domain.
President, Benton Foundation