Let’s sue ICANN

ICANN

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) doesn’t care about the thousands of comments, tweets, articles, petitions and opinions. Submitting comments and signing petitions achieves nothing. Like nothing was achieved by the 3,200 comments that were made on not lifting the .org price caps. ICANN ignored them and went ahead with the plan, screwing all domain name registrants in the world.

I tried to warn people back in April but almost no one cared: “Wake up people! ICANN and the registries want to steal your domain names!“. ICANN and the registries are imposing a domain name tax that has no justification and also you can find no way around it.

Do you think ICANN cares about my and your comments? All they are seeing are the billions of dollars from private equity companies flowing that thinking about their new positions and bonuses.

.ORG is being sold to private equity fund “Ethos Capital” for $1.135 billion so while we were trying to spell out some disagreement about lifting price caps on .org, .info and .biz, ICANN has now conveniently moved the whole debate on the sale of the whole .org extension. Do you think a private equity fund would be interested in a fixed income company? No. But they are now seeing infinite potential by running a monopoly without any price caps. This is unprecedented in the world economy!

ICANN is deeply corrupted and everybody in there are just waiting for all this to go away (without anything happening to stop it) so they can go on to their new corporate positions on Ethos, PIR, Donuts, Afilias, Neustar, Verisign and all the other registry operators they have favored in the past few years.

They don’t care what Tim Berners-Lee says.

They don’t care what the founding chairman of ICANN, Esther Dyson, thinks of the current ICANN board and this mess.

The only thing they care about is their bank accounts. They are getting paid handsomely working for ICANN to serve the private companies and funds that they go to work after they have fulfilled their mission in ICANN.

Fadi Chehade

Fadi Chehade, former Chief Executive Officer of ICANN, is a prime example of this as he is the one that orchestrated all this. He started in 2012 when he joined ICANN. He was so shameless that he announced in August 2015 (while being the ICANN CEO) that he was going to be a Senior Advisor on Digital Strategy for ABRY Partners, a Boston-based private equity investment firm. That was 7 (!) months BEFORE leaving ICANN. ABRY Partners then went ahead and bought DONUTS that is the biggest New gTLD registry with 200+ domain name extensions. So he was working from the inside for at least 7 months! Fadi Chehade then became a consultant (also helping them incorporate) for Ethos Capital too. ABRY Partners and Ethos Capital probably share some or maybe all of their investors.

This is his company website and his Twitter account.

ICANN, .org and the $10,000 domain names

Now ICANN says that they can’t stop ISOC selling PIR. First of all, yes they can. They awarded the stewardship of .org in 2002 to a non-profit (ISOC) operating another non-profit (PIR). Now PIR is moving to a private equity fund. They can just remove the stewardship and give .org to a public bid.

But the whole point here is not about stopping the PIR sale. The whole problem started when ICANN removed price caps from .org and other legacy extensions like .info and .biz.

Equity funds don’t buy fixed income companies. They want to buy PIR/.org because of the infinite potential it has of printing money on the backs of all registrants. This was only possible after removing the price caps. Where was Ethos 6 years ago? PIR could then increase prices for .org domains by 10% every year. Why now?

ICANN claims that they are only moving .org and other extensions like .info and .biz to the “Base Registry Agreement”. But there is one thing they are hiding. This agreement was/is called the “Base New gTLD legacy agreement“. There is a reason “New gTLD” was/is in there. It is there because the “Base New gTLD legacy agreement” only applies/applied to the New gTLDs and NOT the legacy extensions. Guess who approved the “Base New gTLD legacy agreement”? Correct: Fadi Chehade.

The New gTLD legacy agreement also allows premium renewals for individual domains that the registry decides at will. Will this apply to .org soon? And then .com? When will this all end?

At this point my only hope except suing is the European Community stepping in and stopping ICANN as the current US government is a parody show. Yes, the bureaucratic European Community is unfortunately our only hope except it we take matters into our own hands.

Are you wondering who else will benefit if .com price caps are removed too? Well the only thing holding Donuts (ABRY and Fadi Chehade) and other New gTLD registries from increasing the minimum domain name price to $100+ per year was .com, .net and .org prices. Premium new gtlds are already priced at $2,500+ per year so the sky is the limit. Now that .org is gone there is only .com and .net left holding domain prices down.

We are talking about a cost of less than 50 cents per domain per year! This is how much these companies are charging!!!

Once .com is $10,000 per year, .net and .org are $2,500 per year then all new gtlds can increase to a minimum of $1,000 per year and bury all world businesses into this internet tax.

And guess what is the biggest New gTLD registry at this moment with over 200 extensions? Donuts. The company owned by Abry (that Ethos says has not connection but have probably the same investors behind them). Coincidentally Ethos and Abry have the same adviser, Fadi Chehade, and Fadi’s best buddy from childhood Akram Atallah, former President of ICANN‘s Global Domains Division, is the CEO of Donuts. Erik Brooks that is the founder and CEO of Ethos Capital coincidentally was the Former Managing Partner of Abry Partners LLC. Finally, Donuts co-founder and chief counsel Jon Nevett is now the PIR/.org CEO.

An email from Sullivan to ISOC newsletter members said that Ethos Capital raised the money to buy the .org extension from three large funds:

  • Perot Holdings (affiliated with Petrus Asset Management Co/Petrus Holding Co)
  • FMR LLC (affiliated with Johnson family)
  • Solamere Capital (affiliated with Romney family)

Even ISOC’s Netherlands chapter is opposing the sale together with ISOC Portugal and ISOC Switzerland.

Each of these legacy extensions (.com, .net, .org, .info, .biz, etc.) is essentially an unregulated monopoly. ICANN’s only job was to regulate these legacy extensions but they refuse to do it because they are getting paid. So what good is having ICANN anymore?

$2 domains

There are tens of companies what would pay ICANN a lot of money just for the rights to operate .org at a fixed price of $2 per domain. But ICANN has gifted .org (and .com, .net, .info, .biz and other extensions) to its current registry operators to get rich for years to come! An open competitive bid for all legacy extensions is the only solution that I will accept from ICANN at this point. Of course they would never do that in their own so they must be forced to. Whoever charges the least per domain per year gets the registry for 10 years. I am sure that there will be bids for less that $2 per year per domain for .org, .info and .biz. And there will be bids at about $1 for .com. As it is, New gTLD registries are getting charged less than $1 per domain from their backend operators.

And yes as someone from outside the US, I want companies from outside the US to be able to make a bid on these extensions. I don’t want all my renewal money going to US companies. Sorry but may the cheapest bid win.

Why don’t we just give .org to its current back-end operator Afilias for 10 years with the price that PIR just negotiated in October? (See “PIR (.Org) slashes registry fee to Afilias in half to $18 million“) That is less than $2.00 per domain per year. Why do we need Ethos Capital, a private equity firm, to sell .org domains for $20 or $200? Just because some selloffs at ICANN say so? Afilias is probably making over $10 million in profit per year over this .org deal.

Also I have to say that is not just a problem for the non-profits. This is a problem for all registrants of .org. And all other legacy extension registrants like .info and .biz as well. They will be all  blackmailed from a company that is essentially nothing more than a back-end operator. ISOC/PIR and ICANN don’t own the .org extension or any of the other legacy extensions. All legacy extensions are part of the public infrastructure. They had different rules from day one. .Com, .net and .org existed before ICANN ever did.

ICANN is essentially extorting money from all domain name registrants. This has got to stop.

BTW I was against the option of .org and other registries having the ability to raise domain name prices by 10% every year. Domains are too expensive as it is as I explained above.

.Com and its registry Verisign got stopped by U.S. Department of Commerce from increasing .com prices for many years now.

Prices should be going down instead of up. Server cost is falling so why are we paying more for a company to host our domain name records?

Some also say that Ethos promised to ONLY increase .org prices by 10% each year. First of all I don’t trust these sharks. And more importantly even a $1 increase is money stolen from companies around the world. It doesn’t matter that it is $1 from each one. It matters that it is $10 million stolen with each $1 increase.

BTW, a “simple” 10% yearly increase (that is well above the current inflation) will bring .org domains at $26 in 10 years, $67 in 20 years, $1,174 in 50 years and $137,806 in 100 years!

Let’s sue ICANN

So there is only one option available to stop these corrupt organizations: Let’s sue ICANN.

Let’s sue ICANN and dissolve it. We don’t need it any more. ICANN is corrupt to the bone and there the only option we have is to kill it. ICANN is dead to us anyway.

Will it be a class action lawsuit? Will it be an antitrust lawsuit?

I also expect ICANN and the people on the ICANN board sued as well as the ICANN employees that orchestrated this. This includes former ICANN buddies Fadi Chehade and Akram Atallah.

I expect their communications and financial records checked, including bank accounts and shares/stocks, companies, etc.

Yes, ICANN can be sued. I don’t know how but I am expecting attorneys to come up with ideas and a plan. ICANN has breached half their bylaws in the past 6 years and probably many US and international laws. ICANN headquarters are in California so I would expect to start from there.

I am willing to offer at least $5,000 per year to support this lawsuit. I am sure other people around the world will join me if they see a vision and some action. If the ICA starts a lawsuit then I will become a member and fully support it. At the moment they are not doing a lot more than what individuals, bloggers and journalists are doing.

Sure we can file for an Independent Review Process but that could take 2 years and then it is going to be too late.

Now ICANN also wants to give ICANN the ability to increase .com prices once again. Do we know who that ever worked in ICANN had Verisign stock while working for ICANN? No? Why not? ICANN giving Verisign the ability of a price increase would be a classic case of front-running trading as it would drive up Verisign stock. This is what U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigates every day. Is ICANN above any law? Has anyone ever in ICANN disclosed any conflicts?

Let’s sue ICANN!!!

Here is some more reading material:

ICA Calls for ICANN to Withhold Approval of Purported .Org Registry Sale

Coalition Letter on Sale of Public Interest Registry

What to do about .ORG

Internet world despairs as non-profit .org sold for $$$$ to private equity firm, price caps axed

As pressure builds over .org sell-off, internet governance bodies fall back into familiar pattern: Silence

Access Now calls on ICANN and ISOC to halt sale

The .ORG sale is a radical departure that puts the Internet at risk

Nonprofit community stands together to protect .org

ICANN races towards regulatory capture: the great .ORG heist

Private equity firm procures .org from the Internet Society, or: How the public interest got sold-out (again)

Private Equity Is Going to Ruin the .Org Domain System and Screw Nonprofits

Private equity firm buys .org domain months after ICANN lifted price caps

Four big developments in the .org pricing scandal

Please share this post or any of the posts/links above if you give a damn about the internet and its future.

Sold.Domains

About Konstantinos Zournas

Konstantinos studied Computer Engineering and Computer Science in London and lives in Athens, Greece. He loves domains and building websites. He is online since 1995, learned about html in 1996 and got into domains in 2002. He started the OnlineDomain.com blog in 2012.

28 comments

  1. I can be the lead plaintiff and get paid and get the most $$$$$ in return.

  2. Take a look at FADI on twitter. He talks about jack ma (going to sell .com to chinese) and brags about starting an ETHOS award at icann etc. https://twitter.com/ShitFadiSays

  3. Yes, let’s sue ICANN.
    The cost of a .COM domain name should be less than $3, not $7.85 (see what a .DE costs and you’ll see where the problem is).
    ICANN / VERISIGN have stolen billions of dollars from domain registrants over the years by not putting the .COM contract for bid.
    Let’s get our money back with a class action !
    Let’s also shut down ICANN.
    It’s about time !!!

  4. #SUEICANN
    and then
    #SHUTDOWNICANN

  5. ICANN is nothing more than a PIMP, FADI needs to be at arms length. Has no business doing such insider deals, make the bids public.

    Just tie those F’er in court for years, and tire them out.

  6. Yes Fuddy’s Twitter feed is quite revealing.

    “My dear #ICANN community. Save your fury for when you find who is the real money behind my purchase of
    @PIRegistry
    My good friend @jackMaofficial and his friends only have so many options on where to invest.”
    Nov 21.

    Sounds like he is suggesting that the true money sources behind the PIR acquisition is coming from China?

    “Instead, (ICANN) said its job was simply to “assure the continued operation of the .org domain…implying that (ICANN) could only stop the sale if the stability and security of the domain name infrastructure were at risk.” – Source; DNW

    If that is true, the U.S. government should probably investigate this shady deal for dot org involving a former ICANN chief and unnamed foreign backers.

    And Fuddy is saying it is his acquisition, not Ethos’. That seems like a pretty material disclosure he made on Twitter.

  7. Besides that, Fuddy comes across as a total f*cking douchebag on his Twitter feed.

    Lock him up.

  8. 100% agree.

    From the new gTLDs standpoint, they allowed registries to reserve as many domains as they wished, charge crazy high premiums, and increase prices whenever they want to (everyone remembers the Uniregistry crazy price increases a few years ago).

    To allow all that, ICANN was either extremely inept or corrupt. And I think the latter is most likely.

    • New tld are a different situation because Icann sold off those extensions to the highest bidders. They are more “owned” than “managed”, and they aren’t really important to the functioning of the internet.

      • Gosh! What’s happening with domains. If this could happen to .org (which I thought was the most sacred) it could happen to .net and .com.

        That would be terrible for everyone… except perhaps for the new G registries.

  9. Players in this industry know they can get away with just about anything because there is virtually no regulation.

  10. Yes Icann is a dishonest organisation, but no some vague court case isn’t going to change anything. .ORG might already be a lost cause.

    I think domainers should prepare for large future price rises, eg 10% a year over ten years comes to to a 2.6x increase. 15% over 10 years would be a 4x increase. I think they will almost certainly break the 10% commitment within a couple of years. (didn’t PIR just spend a lot of time getting that 10% cap removed?)

    Seek the relative safety of .com, the is the only one that the US government cares about.

  11. Is there an emperor who listens to the voice of the slaves?

  12. Legal action will probably require more than $5k per each reader on this blog, and everyone would need to pitch in. No freeriders. Do domain investors have what it takes to stand up for their rights?

  13. Thank you Kostantitos.Please can you put a link to know the face of this Fadi Chehade and even his social media handle so we can storm and blast him and his corrupt croonies.

  14. http://www.chehade.company/about

    What a crock. His own bio on his own website states:

    “From 2012 to 2016, Mr. Chehadé was the President and CEO of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), where he successfully guided ICANN’s historical transition to an independent global organization.”

    So, he successfully guided ICANN to be an independent global organization. To an organization that has no borders or boundaries, and seemingly is held accountable to nobody. And then he swoops in to be a part of Donuts, Abry Partners, now ETHOS. He successfully removed transparency and accountability of ICANN. Per his website, he PROUDLY made ICANN accountable to nobody, then helps relish in the profits he reaps from non-profits worldwide. Due to making ICANN un-accountable.

    Just look at what has been happening this year! ICANN is off in fantasy-land making all sorts of crooked and crazy deals!

    Sickening. Just disgusting what ICANN is doing to the Internet. The world needs to dismantle ICANN and replace it. The world NEEDS a replacement of ICANN.

    I suggest the every .org owner gets to cast a vote. And the organization that runs the legacy .org TLD would be beholden to what the democracy of what .org registrants want. That would be a fair and just world. One whereby the operator of the extension could say “we need to raise prices because of [item], will you approve our price increase by $1?”

    These no-bid contracts for legacy TLDs (specifically .org, .net and .com) need to be put out to a competitive bid. ICANN is the ringleader of this circus and I wholly agree and believe they should be the target of an antitrust lawsuit and/or a class action lawsuit.

    Konstantinos – thank you for making this post! I’m finally hopeful where things might be headed. After being in so much despair over all that is unfolding before our eyes. We need to demand a fix to this entire mess!

  15. It’s great that you are raising these issues and willing to support it financially.

    Some questions would need to be answered. such as:

    Which of the many circumstantial pieces of evidence are most likely to yield a court victory? Who would the action be taken against? In what court? Does a class action make any sense? Who will lead the group? How will decisions be made? Who will represent the group? Will domainers pay their share of money into the legal fund?

    If some reasonable answers can be found, there may be support for it.

    • Konstantinos Zournas

      I am willing to fund anyone credible that starts a fight against ICANN. The EFF maybe?

      All extensions have to be put on a public bid. Those who say that can operate each extension for the lowest annual fee get to operate it. .Org will then be lower than $2 and .com will be lower than $1.

      • Konstantinos Zournas

        Here a reply from Howard Neu, Esq.:
        http://neusnews.com/2019/12/class-action-lawsuit-against-icann-may-be-only-answer-to-future-of-domains/

        “CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT AGAINST ICANN MAY BE ONLY ANSWER TO FUTURE OF DOMAINS”

        “Constantine Zournas wrote that ICANN should be sued in order to stop the foreseen tremendous increase in domain pricing to benefit insiders who have worked for and continue to work for ICANN.”

        “I commend Constantine for this insightful article and urge the domaining public to seriously consider this action. It will be expensive and would require substantial funding. At the very least, this should be an important topic to discuss and take action at Namescon next month.”

  16. Let everyone associated with this crime against the world live in infamy.

  17. Where do I sign up for this lawsuit? ICANN can go screw itself.

  18. Nothing less than sociopaths – every party to this scheme.

  19. I doubt a lawsuit will do anything or even has standing. Part of the problem faced by anyone is that the DNS is consensual. ICANN is an administrator of a system everyone chooses to use. In a sense, it’s like suing Facebook over ToS. Most courts will simply tell you to stop using the service.

    • Konstantinos Zournas

      ICANN is the administrator of part of the world’s infrastructure. Facebook is just one website of the millions existing on that infrastructure.

  20. Regarding the lawsuit against ICANN, I think Howard Neu describes a better action in Namescon Austin 2020.

    We have to be one voice in the whole world and many other known voices that also made themselves heard as happened in Woodstock in 1969, because after 51 years we repeated the same with the worldwide impact that this Festival had.

    Several cities of each continent Multidinary festivals in re-divination towards Freedom “Song that improvised Richie Havens (RIP) and was the most remembered song among all the public and musicians in Woodstock 1969 and also for the later of this great Festival https://youtu.be/rynxqdNMry4 ” for the Internet.

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