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Islanders are demanding that their colonizers return the “.IO” domain.

July 10, 2020

The popular domain name “.io” has become part of a complaint against the United Kingdom for alleged human rights violations related to the continued management of Indian Ocean areas.

The sale of the .io domain name is contested as part of a complaint lodged by former Chagos archipelago islanders at the center of a territorial dispute between Mauritius. a former British colony and the United Kingdom since the 1980s.

“.Io” is now very popular with numerous technology, cryptocurrency, blockchain and other companies, not to mention a few scams. Formally, it was the top level domain name (ccTLD) for the “Indian Ocean”. Nevertheless, the domain name was acquired on the open market by a UK-based company, the Internet Computer Bureau (ICB), in the late 1990s.

Islanders are demanding that their colonizers return the “.IO” domain.Islanders are demanding that their colonizers return the “.IO” domain.

The UK government receives an undisclosed portion of the proceeds from the sale of “.io”, which, according to the complaint, is part of the ongoing colonial expropriation of economic property and livelihoods of former islanders:

“.IO ccTLD rights are valuable property and generate millions of dollars in commission annually for the ICB. The 1997 contract or agreement grants the ICB the exclusive right to use this asset in the same way that the colonial powers have delegated the exclusive right in Africa to private companies to act on behalf of the colonialist. […] The ICB is the agent of the occupying power and acts in its place in matters of the ccTLD .IO “.

The complaint states that end users contain the .io domain “Thousands of crypto asset platforms,” ​​including exchanges, ICOs, and cryptocurrency miners, that “generate large amounts of unregulated, unencumbered, and taxable income and also trade billions of dollars a day.”

The complaint claims that cryptocurrency companies can generate this amount of supposedly unregulated income by exploiting the “nonexistent trade regulation” in the disputed area.

In addition to unfairly profiting from domain name sales The complaint alleges that the UK “tolerates mass crime” by overlooking the existence of “thousands of criminal cryptocurrency companies” registered on .io.

The colonial background

The Chagos Archipelago was ruled by the United Kingdom as a dependency on Mauritius between 1814 and 1965 when it separated from Mauritius to form a new colony called the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT). In addition to the archipelago, BIOT also includes several other islands that separated from the Seychelles.

The Chagossians were expelled between 1967 and 1973, Make way for a common military base with the United States that still exists today.

Since the 1980s Mauritius has tried to regain control of BIOT and claims that its replacement shortly before independence from Mauritius (1968) violated a 1960 UN resolution and endangered the decolonization process. In 2017, the United Nations General Assembly referred the decades-long dispute to the International Court of Justice (IGH).

In 2019, the IGH ordered the United Kingdom to return the Chagos Archipelago to Mauritius “as soon as possible” and decided that its continued occupation of the islands was illegal.