Public Interest Registry

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Public Interest Registry (PIR) is a generic top-level Domain registry (gTLD registry) that manages the .org top level domain (TLD). A not-for-profit organization, PIR came into existence on 1 January 2003, through the efforts of Reston, Virginia, US-headquartered "The Internet Society". PIR was formed to take over the operation and maintenance of the .org domain and its database from Verisign Global Registry Services, a division of VeriSign. The organization has its office at Reston, Virginia.


The .org top-level domain was first created in October 1984 by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA)[1], as part of its implementation of the RFC 920. Though the RFC limited the scope of the .org domain to non-profit organizations or to organizations of a non-commercial nature, over time the scope of the domain has expanded to include any entity, whether organizational or individual, commercial or non-commercial.

The first .org domain was registered by MITRE Corporation, a not-for-profit organization providing systems engineering and information technology support to the US government, on July 10, 1985.

On May 25, 2001, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) entered into an unsponsored registry agreement with Verisign Inc for operating the .org domain.[2] This agreement expired on December 31, 2002. A request for proposal was circulated by ICANN on May 20, 2002.[3] ISOC (The Internet Society) was one of the eleven applicants who put in their proposals to become the successor operator.[4] ISOC proposed to set up a separate entity christened "Public Interest Registry" (PIR) to operate the .org gTLD, with the sole power to appoint its board of directors. As part of the arrangement, PIR would appoint Afilias Limited to handle the full range of back-end registry services on behalf of PIR. The ICANN board selected PIR as the successor operator to Verisign for managing the .org gTLD on October 14, 2002.[5] Finally, the reins of .org domain came into PIR's control in January 2003 for a period of 3 years, expiring December 2006.

On December 8, 2006, the agreement between ICANN and PIR was further renewed for another 6.5 years, and is set to expire on June 30, 2013.[6]

The .org has emerged as the third-largest generic top-level domain in the world, as per the bi-annual domain name report published by PIR for January to June 2010.[7]


PIR is governed by a Board of Directors who are appointed by the parent company, ISOC. The board comprises seven members, headed presently by Chairman Maarten Botterman. The CEO of PIR is an ex-officio board member too.

The PIR management team comprises five senior members of the organization from three departments - law and policy, marketing, and finance/operations. The present CEO of PIR is Ms. Alexa A.S. Raad, who is due to step down from the position by September 24, 2010. Mr. Maarten Botterman, the CEO will serve as interim CEO till a new person is appointed for this position. The organization presently has eight staff members on its payroll.

Besides the board of directors, PIR also has an advisory council which was "created to advise on issues ranging from public policy to the introduction of new services." The council comprises members representing a broad spectrum of member organizations around the world. There are fifteen members in the present advisory council, for the term 2010 to 2012. The council has organized into working groups whose mandate is to provide project-based analysis and input, which goes as resource to the staff of PIR as well as general directions to the board. There are presently four working groups - IDN, policy, DNSSEC and outreach & awareness.

Deployment of DNSSEC

In April 2008, PIR submitted a request to ICANN to amend the .org registry, specifically the function of the registry and the corresponding Whois and DNS systems for the .org gTLD, in order to facilitate the use of "Domain Name System Security Extensions" (DNSSEC) as specified in RFCs 4033, 4034, 4035 and 5155 (NSEC3).[8] The ICANN board approved this proposal in June 2008.[9]

On June 23, 2010, Ms. Alexa Raad, PIR CEO, announced at an ICANN 38 Brussels press conference that .org has become the first generic top-level domain to offer full deployment of DNSSEC. The DNSSEC has become the most robust security protocol on the internet as of 2010, and registrars who have implemented DNSSEC in their system can "offer added security protection to their customers by enabling .org website owners to sign their respective domain name with validation keys."[10]

The benefit of DNSSEC to a .org registrant is the "added ability to thwart the increased predominance of attacks like pharming, cache poisoning, DNS redirection and domain hijacking - all of which have been used to commit fraud, distribute malware and identity theft."[11]


- There are 8.5 million domains registered under the .org domain as of end of July 2010.[12]

- The gTLD registry celebrated its 25th anniversary of existence in June 2010 by hosting a birthday bash during Music Night at ICANN 38 Brussels.

- .org registrations surpassed the growth of .com and .net by posting a percentage growth rate of 7.6% in the period January to July 2010; however, the .info domain beat them all with a growth rate of 20.0%.

- North America is the largest market for .org domains, and takes 64% of the .org pie.


Alexa A. S. Raad - Chief Executive Officer

David Maher - Senior Vice President, Law & Policy

Kathy Kleiman- Director of Policy

Lance Wolak - Director, Marketing & Product Management

Lawrence C. Martin - Director of Finance & Administration

Kim VanWyngaardt - Executive Administrator

Lauren Price Sr. - Product Marketing Manager

Thuy LeDinh - Senior Marketing Communications Manager


External Links