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ICANN eliminates .org domain price caps despite lopsided opposition

Earlier this year, ICANN sought public comment on a new contract for the Public Interest Registry, the non-profit organization that administers the .org top-level domain. The results were stark.

More than 3,200 individuals and organizations submitted comments to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, and most of them focused on a proposal to remove a cap on the price customers could be charged for .org domains.

The existing contract, signed in 2013, banned the Public Interest Registry from charging more than $8.25 per domain. It allowed annual price increases of no more than 10 percent. Registrars can add their own fees on top of this base amount, but competition among registrars helps keep those added fees down.

According to one tally, 3,252 comments supported keeping the price cap. Another 57 comments didn’t express an opinion on this issue one way or the other. Only six supported higher prices. Of those, one was filed by a former executive at Verisign, a for-profit company that administers the .com domain that might want to raise its own prices in the future. Another was from a lobbying organization that counts Verisign as a member. A third appeared to be voicing support only sarcastically.

To sum up, fewer than 0.07 percent of commenters thought it would be a good idea to remove the price cap on .org domains, while more than 98 percent opposed the change.

But on Sunday, as the old contract was about to expire, ICANN approved a new contract without a price cap.

Why?

Why did the organization do it? ICANN is trying to standardize its contracts with domain registries. Over the last few years, ICANN has approved new contracts for a wide variety of new gTLDs. Many of these are run by for-profit companies, and their contracts don’t limit the prices they can charge. ICANN would like to standardize all of its contracts, and that means modifying the .org contract to more closely match those for domain names like .pizza and .ninja.

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