By and large, the internet derives its value from transparency and collaboration without which we probably couldn't have created the greatest general purpose network in the history of humankind.
Those forces aren't compatible with commercialisation and, as events last week show, they don't win when pitted against business interests.
Long story short, the management organisation for one of the original internet top-level domains (TLDs), .org was sold by the Internet Society to Ethos Capital, a private equity firm.
The Internet Society, or ISOC, is the global version of InternetNZ. A former InternetNZ staffer, Keith Davidson, and Jay Daley from NZRS, sit on the board of the Public Interest Registry (PIR) that ISOC set up to manage .org.
The PIR sale came as a real surprise to everyone. Not many of the more than 10 million .org domain name holders would know of the deal, unless they monitored the website of the Public Interest Registry (PIR) and spotted the announcement there or elsewhere. No direct notification was sent out to registrants.
While figures for Australia suggest that there are more than 100,000 .org registrants, I haven't found any numbers for New Zealand yet. Anecdotal evidence suggest that .org domains are popular here as it's an open TLD with inexpensive registration charges.
PIR brought in a solid annual revenue stream for ISOC, which was awarded the contract to run .org in 2002 by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the United States-based organisation which governs these things.
Every year, ISOC got somewhere between US$30 million to US$70m from PIR which was used to further good work in the internet community. Maybe that wasn't enough, and ISOC needed more or a different way to earn money and selling PIR was the way to do it.
Nevertheless, the deal has raised eyebrows in the internet community and it's not hard to see why.
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Earlier this year, ISOC had the contract to run .org via PIR renewed by ICANN.
ICANN also changed the contract to make the one for .org the same as those for .com, .net and others.
This included the removal of price caps for registrations, currently US$9.95 a year. From this year, .org registrations be priced at whatever level the registry and its registrars desire.
That drew the ire of a few thousand people who noticed the price cap removal and spoke up about it, with just a handful of submitters in favour of the move.
Then there are the personal connections between ICANN, PIR and Ethos Capital; the latter investment vehicle was set up only some months ago by Erik Brooks from private equity firm Arby Partners.
At Arby Partners, Brooks was behind the acquisition of registry Donuts, which specialises in new domains like .today, together with the former chief executive of ICANN, Fadi Chehadé.
After Arby took over another ex-ICANN senior staffer, Akram Atallah, was appointed chief executive of Donuts.
Donuts co-founder Jonathon Trevett is the chief executive of PIR. Working with Brooks is Nora Abusitta-Ouri, a former ICANN senior vice president.
That key players in the deal, as connected as they are, might not matter, but they make for an uneasy feeling and are certainly hard to overlook. Nowadays this is called "bad optics".
No financials were disclosed by any of the parties involved in the deal, including what PIR sold for, but ISOC chief executive Andrew Sullivan provided more information on who is funding Ethos Capital.
They are US investment vehicles associated with the mega rich Republican-connected Perot, Romney and Johnson clans.
How much those for-profit equity firms will care about not-for-profit charities and non-governmental organisations - and others - who have had .org domains for ages remains to be seen. Will they be happy with say US$50m revenue a year when they could easily have US$500m?
While domain names are portable between internet providers, it's much harder to move from one top-level domain to another once your organisation's online presence is established with a website, email and other services.
There is no easy way to shift from, say, domain.org to domain.net currently without disruption that costs way more than even a ten-fold increase in registration fees would do.
PIR has sought to smooth over worries, saying it will continue as in the past and that no price hikes are on the cards. For now at least.
Money considerations aside, there's a real sense of betrayal in the internet community over how the deal was handled and communicated.
ISOC veteran and well-known computer scientist George Sadowsky said it well when he suggested the internet organisation missed the emotional response from its dedicated membership, and instead focused on defending the logic of selling PIR.
The deal will be a real disturbance in the force for ISOC, especially if .org (and .ngo/.ong) prices go up, and should serve as a reminder that transparency cuts both ways.