The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the regulatory body that—among other things—delegates the operation of top-level domains (TLDs) to ostensibly for-profit organizations, lifted price restrictions placed on the operators of the .org and .info registries, allowing for price increases.

This change comes as part of the Public Interest Registry’s (PIR) renewal as the operator of the .org TLD through 2029. Though other operators, such as Verisign, are for-profit, PIR is registered as a non-profit.

Separately, price restrictions were also lifted on Afilias, the operator of the .info TLD.

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The renewal—and potential removal of price caps—was opened to a public comment period from March 18 to April 29. A consortium of nonprofits including NPR, C-SPAN, the National Geographic Society, and others, wrote, in part:

If the existing price caps are removed, there will be no limits on the prices the Public Interest Registry can charge, and any wholesale cost increases imposed by the registry likely will be passed on to .org registrants such as the organizations we represent. This will accordingly introduce new budgetary uncertainty to the class of organizations that can least afford such uncertainty. Every additional dollar earmarked for domain name registrations is a dollar that is not available to advance the public interest purpose of nonprofit registrants that use the .org name space. While it is possible the Public Interest Registry may choose not to raise prices, despite the removal of the caps, the .org registry is too important to leave this decision to the registry’s discretion.

In total, 3,315 comments were submitted, of which a grand total of six were in support of raising price caps, according to research by Review Signal, which calls the situation “a case study in regulatory capture,” and concludes that “there appears to be very little stopping ICANN from simply pushing through these contracts despite overwhelming evidence that the average internet user isn’t in favor of these changes.”

The price of .org domain names has increased at a faster pace than .com. While initially $6.00 per year in 2003, the current registry price is $9.68, compared to $7.85 for .com, which has not seen price increases since 2012. (Actual rates paid by end users varies depending on the registrar.)

While price increases have not yet been announced by PIR, current registrants would be well served by renewing their .org domain names for the maximum of 10 years to head off potential increases.

For more on domain names, check out “How fraudulent domain names are powering phishing attacks” and “Registrations for .inc domain names are open, but is it worth it to get one?” on TechRepublic.

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