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Esther Dyson. Photo: Dominik Gigler for DLD/Hubert Burda Media

From 1998 to 2000, Esther Dyson was the founding chairman of ICANN, the group that oversees how Web addresses are handed out. Now, she is urging that organization to block the administration of .org domains from being turned over to a private company in a deal valued at more than $1 billion.

Why it matters: .org domains have traditionally been used by nonprofits and organizations rather than commercial entities.

Driving the news: The Internet Society has announced the sale of Public Internet Registry, the entity that controls the .org domain, to Ethos Capital, a private equity firm.

  • Opponents worry that the the move will inevitably lead to higher prices for .org domains as the new owner works to make its huge investment pay off.
  • "If the Internet Society wants more steady income, we want to work with them, but we don't want them to sell .org off to the highest bidder," Dyson said in an interview at DLD in Munich on Sunday.

Dyson is a board member of Cooperative Corporation for .ORG Registrants, a group that is seeking to create an alternative to the sale.

  • "We don't want to buy .org," Dyson said. "We want if necessary to create a governance structure for it. And then we want to resign in favor of a new board elected by the 10 million-plus entities using .org domains."

Yes, but: Ethos Capital says it respects the right of others to criticize its deal.

"But .org users are right to wonder what this new co-op group is about, how it would function or what it wants.  This group initially proposed taking over .ORG, but it has no financial backing or experience running a registry business.  Now it seems not to want to take over .ORG, but something else."
— Ethos Capital

History lesson: The Internet Society, which dates back to 1992, seeks to promote openness and continued technology development for the internet. Its major funding source is the Public Internet Registry. Of its $51 million in 2019 revenue, more than $44 million came from the PIR, per its financial statements.

  • The society's chairman is Vint Cerf, co-creator of the TCP/IP protocol that underlies today's internet.
  • "The .org domain has been run by a for-profit entity in the past, and there is no requirement for it to be managed by a non-profit in the future," the society declares on a "Frequently Asked Questions" page. "The .org domain is not exclusive to non-profits. As an open domain, it includes many for-profit organizations."

The big picture: There is significant opposition to the .org domain falling into private hands. Dozens of nonprofits, led by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, have called on the Internet Society to call off the deal.

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
17 mins ago - Economy & Business

How the tech stock selloff is hurting average Americans

Expand chart
Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Investors holding the ultra-popular Nasdaq 100 and S&P 500 index funds have been hard hit over the last two weeks as tech shares have been roiled by rising U.S. Treasury yields.

Why it matters: Even though the economy is growing and many U.S. stocks are performing well, most investors are seeing their wealth decline because major indexes no longer reflect the overall economy or even a broad swath of public companies — they reflect the performance of a few of the country's biggest companies.

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UN rights chief: At least 54 killed, 1,700 detained since Myanmar coup

A Feb. 7 protest in Yangon, Myanmar. Photo: Getty Images/Getty Images

Police and military officers in Myanmar have killed at least 54 people during anti-coup protests, while "arbitrarily" detaining over 1,700 people, United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet said Thursday.

Why it matters: Protesters have demonstrating across Myanmar for nearly a month, demanding the restoration of democracy after the country's military leaders overthrew its democratically elected government on Feb. 1.

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The danger of a fourth wave

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Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Note: Anomalous Arkansas case data from Feb. 28 was not included in the calculated change; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The U.S. may be on the verge of another surge in coronavirus cases, despite weeks of good news.

The big picture: Nationwide, progress against the virus has stalled. And some states are ditching their most important public safety measures even as their outbreaks are getting worse.