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ICANN Receives Letter from California Attorney General Regarding .ORG Change of Control

LOS ANGELES – 30 January 2020 – The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) today announced that the Office of the Attorney General of the State of California (CA-AGO) has requested information from ICANN regarding the proposed transfer of Public Interest Registry (PIR) from the Internet Society (ISOC) to Ethos Capital in order to "analyze the impact to the nonprofit community, including to ICANN".

ICANN received the letter last week, and is fully cooperating with the Attorney General's request for information. ICANN is subject to regulation by the CA-AGO, which is responsible for supervising charitable organizations in California. ICANN is a California public benefit, nonprofit corporation. ICANN and PIR have agreements in place regarding PIR's operation of the .ORG registry and other registries (PIR Registry Agreements).

This afternoon, after initial discussions with the CA-AGO, ICANN is publicly posting the Attorney General's letter. ICANN also is providing formal notice to PIR, pursuant to the terms of the PIR Registry Agreements, because the CA-AGO has requested that ICANN provide information that PIR designated as confidential.

In addition, the CA-AGO has asked for more time, surpassing the current ICANN deadline to review the proposed change of control of the PIR Registry Agreements that is currently set as 17 February 2020. Accordingly, the letter from ICANN to PIR requests additional time, up to 20 April 2020, to conclude both the CA-AGO and ICANN reviews.

Throughout this inquiry, ICANN will continue to conduct thorough due diligence in its consideration of the proposed change of control and related conversion of PIR from a nonprofit to a for-profit. PIR is currently a Pennsylvania nonprofit corporation. As part of the proposed sale, PIR has proposed to the Pennsylvania Attorney General that it be turned into a for-profit entity.

ICANN remains committed to being as transparent as possible in the processing of PIR's request, as we are demonstrating by the posting of both letters.


ICANN's mission is to help ensure a stable, secure, and unified global Internet. To reach another person on the Internet, you need to type an address – a name or a number – into your computer or other device. That address must be unique so computers know where to find each other. ICANN helps coordinate and support these unique identifiers across the world. ICANN was formed in 1998 as a not-for-profit public-benefit corporation with a community of participants from all over the world.

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Internationalized Domain Name ,IDN,"IDNs are domain names that include characters used in the local representation of languages that are not written with the twenty-six letters of the basic Latin alphabet ""a-z"". An IDN can contain Latin letters with diacritical marks, as required by many European languages, or may consist of characters from non-Latin scripts such as Arabic or Chinese. Many languages also use other types of digits than the European ""0-9"". The basic Latin alphabet together with the European-Arabic digits are, for the purpose of domain names, termed ""ASCII characters"" (ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange). These are also included in the broader range of ""Unicode characters"" that provides the basis for IDNs. The ""hostname rule"" requires that all domain names of the type under consideration here are stored in the DNS using only the ASCII characters listed above, with the one further addition of the hyphen ""-"". The Unicode form of an IDN therefore requires special encoding before it is entered into the DNS. The following terminology is used when distinguishing between these forms: A domain name consists of a series of ""labels"" (separated by ""dots""). The ASCII form of an IDN label is termed an ""A-label"". All operations defined in the DNS protocol use A-labels exclusively. The Unicode form, which a user expects to be displayed, is termed a ""U-label"". The difference may be illustrated with the Hindi word for ""test"" — परीका — appearing here as a U-label would (in the Devanagari script). A special form of ""ASCII compatible encoding"" (abbreviated ACE) is applied to this to produce the corresponding A-label: xn--11b5bs1di. A domain name that only includes ASCII letters, digits, and hyphens is termed an ""LDH label"". Although the definitions of A-labels and LDH-labels overlap, a name consisting exclusively of LDH labels, such as"""" is not an IDN."