(this message has also been sent to email@example.com)
ICANN's recent recommendation
to assign control of the .org domain to the Internet Society is, I'm sure, well intentioned.
ISOC's mere existence as an organization representing individuals and organizations
using the Internet, founded by some of the Internet's early luminaries, is a powerful
statement for the common good and the future of the Internet as an open, humane medium.
ISOC in practice has varied rather widely from ISOC in promise, and while the ideals
of the organization are sound, the organization itself is not. For example,
in the past few months, ISOC has revamped its governance structure and stripped its
individual members of their right to participate in electing the Board of Directors.
Moreover, ISOC has proven itself unable to manage its own financial affairs, accruing
significant debt that, in their own auditor's words, "raise a substantial doubt about
the Internet Society's ability to continue as a going concern" (see http://www.isoc.org/dotorg/bid/AppendixA.html#A1).
In response to a question I raised on the ICANN discussion boards, ISOC replied
that they were financially able to cover the costs of administering .org regardless
of whether or not they received the endowment from Verisign (see http://forum.icann.org/cgi-bin/rpgmessage.cgi?org;3D505E92000001CE).
This clearly is NOT true -- ISOC's own financial audits reveal that the organization
is virtually bankrupt and does not have the assets to undertake a significant project
like running a TLD. Additionally, ISOC's proposed back-end technology provider,
Afilias, seems to lack the financial stability to ensure the continued integrity
of the .org domain (see http://www.isoc.org/dotorg/bid/AppendixA.html#A2).
ISOC is not alone. Other bidders have also recently experienced financial
difficulties. I still strongly question why the financial stability of the
new operator is not a primary criterion in this process; the continued stability
of the .org domain needs to be the top priority in determining the new administrator,
and that stability demands that the operator be on firm financial ground.
I am a strong proponent of running the .org domain in such a fashion that it can
continue to serve the public interest and promote the values that nonprofit groups
across the world espouse, I strongly object to using .org as a crutch to fund ISOC.
None of the TLDs should be entrusted to organizations that are financially unsound.
There is simply too much at stake in controlling and administering the DNS system
to risk it on an organization with shaky finances, no matter how well intentioned.
ISOC should not be entrusted with the administration of the .org domain.