After being administered by for-profit companies since its inception in 1995, the .org Internet domain for organizations and groups is now being overseen by the nonprofit Public Interest Registry.
Under an agreement reached in April 2001, responsibility for the .org domain was officially passed Wednesday to the Public Interest Registry, in Reston, Va., from former operator VeriSign Global Registry Services, in Dulles, Va.
The change was made by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to return the .org domain to its original mission as a central database for Web sites created and used by nonprofit groups.
The .org domain had been operated by the former Network Solutions Inc. since 1999. VeriSign Inc. later bought Network Solutions Inc., taking over operations of .org under the deal. VeriSign still operates the .com and .net domain registries for ICANN, the nonprofit Marina del Rey, Calif.-based group that oversees the administration of Internet domains.
"We are pleased to begin the transition process," David Maher, chairman of the Public Interest Registry board, said in a statement. "We have put together a solid transition team and are working together toward a smooth, stable transition resulting in no interruption of service for .org registrants."
As part of a transition agreement, VeriSign will assist in a 25-day phase-in period to provide back-end technical services. On Jan. 25, the technical services for the registry will be switched from VeriSign to Afilias Ltd.
The .org domain, known mostly as the domain for noncommercial organizations, is the Internet's fifth largest top-level domain, with more than 2.4 million registered domain names worldwide.
The Public Interest Registry was created to manage the .org registry by the Internet Society, a Reston-based nonprofit organization founded in 1991 to ensure the open development of the Internet.
Last year, ICANN selected the Public Interest Registry to operate the .org domain from among 11 organizations that had sought to oversee the domain. Last month, ICANN signed the agreement with the Public Interest Registry, making the transition official.