The annual meeting of the Public Interest Registry (PIR) Advisory Council was recently held in Reston, Washington DC. Maureen Hilyard attended as the Oceania representative on the international Council.
The PIR Advisory Council consists of global representatives appointed to advise the PIR Board with regards to their management of Top Level Domains (TLDs) .ORG and .NGO on behalf of the Internet Society.
The role of the Advisory Council is to focus on issues that are unique to .ORG and .NGO, and to provide informed advice about policy and services specific to the .ORG and .NGO communities.
The joint meeting was convened and coordinated by the PIR Staff and the Board Chair, Roberto Gaetano. Roberto lives in Austria and is an ex-Board member of ICANN.
The Public Interest Registry (PIR) is the business arm of the Internet Society. Its core mission is to support the Internet Society and inform Internet Society members and the non-commercial community in general, about the internet. The Public Interest Registry also aims to be a thought leader in good policy about the use of the internet (internet governance).
Top Level Domains (TLDs)
In the 1980s, seven generic TLDs (gTLDs)were created. They included .com, .net, and .org which could be used without restriction. But others (.mil, .edu, .gov and .int) were limited for special uses. These became known as the legacy gTLDs.
In the early 2000s, twenty new gTLDs were created and have become in common usage, for example, .info, .bus, .asia, etc
In 2012, ICANN offered the domain name community an opportunity to create more new gTLDs. Applications cost USD185,000. Those who were accepted by ICANN, came into existence after May 2015. Since then, nearly 1200 new top level domains (the last group of letters of a website name) have been created.
This meant that as well as legacy TLDs, and the already established new gTLDs and country code TLDs (like .ck, .nz. .au, etc), people could add other top level domains to identify their particular line of work, for example, .bank, .hotel, .nike, etc
The Internet Society, through the Public Interest Registry, already owned .ORG to help not-for-profit organisations to identify themselves as such on the internet.
The Internet Society were successful with their application to ICANN for the domain name .NGO. Their purpose was to encourage and support the work and fund-raising interests of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), especially those in the developing world – to get online and to set up a website with the support of a cost-effective web service (ENSET).
NGOs and Sustainable Development Goals
Among the important roles that NGOs do in their communities, in general, they help governments and other private sector and civil society groups to achieve their country’s national Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
One of the important discussions that the PIR Advisory Council held during their three day meeting in the PIR’s Reston office, focused on identifying which SDGs most appropriately resonated with the goals of the Public Internet Registry for its promotion of .ORG and .NGO.
The Council decided that the UN Goal 17 – Revitalising partnerships for sustainable development – met their objectives and could possibly serve as its mission.
Goals 9 and 11 were seen to be goals where the Public Interest Registry could have direct links with NGOs and other partners through NGO roles to support sustainable social as well as economic development using the internet.
Goal 9 is related to Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure – creating infrastructure to enhance opportunities for development for sustainable industry through innovation using the internet; and Goal 11 is related to Building Sustainable Communities.
NGOs and the Public Interest Registry.
The Cook Islands Internet Action Group (ciiag.org) uses .ORG as its top level domain. There are over 10 million .ORG domain names.
By February 2017 there were 3568 websites under the .NGO top level domain.
The PIR staff has focused much of their outreach towards making contact and building partnerships with governments, private sector and civil society organisations in order to gain support for the work of national, regional and international NGOs.
Because fundraising is an important component of the work of NGOs, it is important that TRUST and CREDIBILITY are built into the identity of an NGO through its use of the .NGO domain.
Because Trust is such an important component of the .NGO brand, the Public Interest Register has insisted on a validation requirement in order for any NGO to be able to use this exclusive domain name.
Only NGOs that can prove that they meet PIR’s validation criteria are eligible to apply for the top-level domain name with .NGO.
Validation includes that they must be registered charitable organisations and have letters that can attest to their credibility. Only by insisting on these important criteria, can validation ensure that the .NGO platform is secure, credible and can be trusted.
So that NGOs get the full value of their .NGO domain name, they will be supported by ENSET – the registrar associated with PIR and .NGO. The PIR also provides a range of resources which can help to support NGOs as they build their online presence.
In the future and moving forward, one of the objectives of PIR is to create an army of resellers in order to promote, sell and support .NGO domains within regional communities.
DNSWomen, ICANN’s branch of women members and organisational supporters, have a vision of global chapters of women being trained in order to become DNS entrepreneurs, with entry level as resellers.
A successful partnership between PIR and DNSWomen would help to establish a relationship that met the core objectives of both groups.
Some examples of NGO organisations that have .NGO domain names are:
Wings of Hope .NGO (USA)
Green Car .NGO (India)
Danish Refugee Council .NGO (Denmark)