NGO leaders warn selling off .ORG domains to private interests puts civil society at risk
by Access Now, HRW, Amnesty, TI, ITUC, ACLU
22 Jan. 2020
Today, the executive directors of 11 international NGOs released an open letter calling on the leaders of Internet Society (ISOC) and Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to stop the sale of the .ORG top-level domain to private equity firm Ethos Capital.
“.ORG is the place where civil society and NGOs reside in the digital environment. Both the physical and virtual world have become increasingly inhospitable and risky for civil society organizations who face constant surveillance, online censorship, and even more physical risks and legal restrictions on their operations and personnel. This proposed sale presents an additional danger to civil society and undermines the safety and stability of the digital space for countless non-governmental organizations, their partners, and their broader communities,” the letter reads.
Signers include the directors of Greenpeace International, Human Rights Watch, International Trade Union Confederation, Amnesty International, 350.org, Transparency International, Access Now, Sierra Club, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Consumer Reports, and Color of Change. The letter is being officially released in Davos at the World Economic Forum.
“Free expression around the world is increasingly endangered by government and corporate players, which is why we are joining other civil society organizations in making public our concerns over the .ORG sale,” said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
“The internet is crucial to the integrity of civil liberties and human rights work, and also the safety of those doing it. The security of civil society should not be entrusted to private equity.”
“Even more so than what .ORG would look like in the next 5 years, I’m deeply worried about its fate in 2040,” said Brett Solomon, Executive Director of Access Now. “If .ORG is transferred to the private sector, it would inevitably make its way into the hands of those who stand to gain from its control and are willing the pay the price to have it — that could be, for example, the Saudi or Chinese government, or surveillance tech investors like Novalpina Capital.”
“Certain public goods should never be for sale,” said Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch. “We don’t auction off the town square. Similarly, ICANN shouldn’t approve the sale of .ORG, which is the essential haven where civic groups gather the world over.”
“The space for independent civil society voices is under attack globally, and the sale of .ORG would further undermine civil society’s critical role,” said Patricia Moreira, Managing Director for Transparency International. “We call for those involved in this potential transaction to handle it in the open with maximum transparency and integrity.”
There has been a resounding rejection of the sale from the .ORG community and other concerned stakeholders around the world, in particular due to the lack of transparency around the deal and the absence of safeguards for the domain’s continued stability, security, and accessibility.
Nearly 700 organizations and over 20,000 individuals have signed on to the SaveDotOrg petition calling to stop the sale. UN special rapporteur for freedom of expression David Kaye and special rapporteur for freedom of assembly and association Clément Voule wrote to ICANN raising concerns about the transfer’s potential impact on human rights.
A group of U.S. lawmakers, including presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren, have urged ICANN to block the sale because the transfer is not in the public interest.
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Our house is still on fire and you''re fuelling the flames
by Greta Thunberg
Fridays for the Future, agencies
Greta Thunberg addresses the World Economic Forum''s Annual Meeting in Davos:
''One year ago I came to Davos and told you that our house is on fire. I said I wanted you to panic. I’ve been warned that telling people to panic about the climate crisis is a very dangerous thing to do. But don’t worry. It’s fine. Trust me, I’ve done this before and I assure you it doesn’t lead to anything.
And for the record, when we children tell you to panic, we’re not telling you to go on like before.
We’re not telling you to rely on technologies that don’t even exist today at scale and that science says perhaps never will. We are not telling you to keep talking about reaching “net-zero emissions” or “carbon neutrality” by cheating and fiddling around with numbers.
We are not telling you to “offset your emissions” by just paying someone else to plant trees in places like Africa while at the same time forests like the Amazon are being slaughtered at an infinitely higher rate.
Planting trees is good, of course, but it’s nowhere near enough of what needs to be done, and it cannot replace real mitigation or rewilding nature.
Let’s be clear. We don’t need a “low-carbon economy.” We don’t need to “lower emissions.” Our emissions have to stop to stay if we are to have a chance to stay below the 1.5 degrees target. And until we have the technologies that at scale can put our emissions to minus then we must forget about net zero — we need real zero.
Because distant net zero emission targets will mean absolutely nothing if we just continue to ignore the carbon dioxide budget — which applies for today, not distant future dates. If high emissions continue like now even for a few years, that remaining budget will soon be completely used up.
The fact that the U.S.A. is leaving the Paris accord seems to outrage and worry everyone, and it should.
But the fact that we’re all about to fail the commitments you signed up for in the Paris Agreement doesn’t seem to bother the people in power even the least.
Any plan or policy of yours that doesn’t include radical emission cuts at the source starting today is completely insufficient for meeting the 1.5-degree or well-below-2-degrees commitments of the Paris Agreement.
And again — this is not about right or left. We couldn’t care less about your party politics.
From a sustainability perspective, the right, the left, as well as the center, have all failed. No political ideology or economic structure has been able to tackle the climate and environmental emergency and create a cohesive and sustainable world. Because that world, in case you haven’t noticed, is currently on fire.
You say children shouldn’t worry. You say: “Just leave this to us. We will fix this, we promise we won’t let you down. Don’t be so pessimistic.”
And then — nothing. Silence. Or something worse than silence. Empty words and promises which give the impression that sufficient action is being taken.
All the solutions are obviously not available within today’s societies. Nor do we have the time to wait for new technological solutions to become available to start drastically reducing our emissions.
So, of course, the transition isn’t going to be easy. It will be hard. And unless we start facing this now together, with all cards on the table, we won’t be able to solve this in time.
In the days running up to the World Economic Forum, I joined a group of climate activists who are demanding that you, the world’s most powerful and influential business and political leaders, begin to take the action needed.
We demand that at this year’s World Economic Forum participants from all companies, banks, institutions and governments:
Immediately halt all investments in fossil fuel exploration and extraction. Immediately end all fossil fuel subsidies. And immediately and completely divest from fossil fuels.
We don’t want these things done by 2050, 2030 or even 2021, we want this done now.
It may seem like we’re asking for a lot. And you will of course say that we are naïve. But this is just the very minimum amount of effort that is needed to start the rapid sustainable transition.
So either you do this or you’re going to have to explain to your children why you are giving up on the 1.5-degree target. Giving up without even trying.
Well I’m here to tell you that unlike you, my generation will not give up without a fight. The facts are clear, but they’re still too uncomfortable for you to address.
You just leave it because you think it’s too depressing and people will give up. But people will not give up. You’re the ones who are giving up.
Last week I met with coal miners in Poland who lost their jobs because their mine was closed. And even they had not given up. On the contrary, they seem to understand the fact that we need to change more than you do.
I wonder, what will you tell your children was the reason to fail and leave them facing the climate chaos you knowingly brought upon them? The 1.5-degree target? That it seemed so bad for the economy that we decided to resign the idea of securing future living conditions without even trying?
Our house is still on fire. Your inaction is fuelling the flames by the hour. We are still telling you to panic, and to act as if you loved your children above all else''.
* Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES): Nature’s Dangerous Decline ‘Unprecedented’; 1,000,000 species threatened with extinction: http://ipbes.net/news/Media-Release-Global-Assessment
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