The popular domain name „.io“ has become part of a complaint against the United Kingdom for alleged human rights violations linked to its continued administration of territories in the Indian Ocean.
Sales of the .io domain name are being challenged as part of a complaint filed by former islanders of the Chagos Archipelago, who have been at the centre of a territorial dispute between Mauritius, a former British colony, and the United Kingdom since the 1980s.
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Now very popular with numerous technology companies, crypto-currencies, blockchains and others, not to mention some scams, „.io“ was formally the designation of a geographic top-level domain (ccTLD) for the „Indian Ocean“. Despite this, the domain name was acquired on the open market in the late 1990s, by a United Kingdom-based company, Internet Computer Bureau (ICB).
The United Kingdom government receives an undisclosed share of the proceeds from the sale of „.io“, which the complaint claims is part of the ongoing colonial expropriation of the economic property and livelihood of the former islanders:
„The .IO ccTLD rights are valuable property and generate millions of dollars in commissions for ICB annually. The 1997 contract or agreement gives ICB exclusive rights to exploit this asset in the same way that the colonial powers have delegated exclusive rights in Africa to private companies to act on behalf of the colonizer. …] ICB is the agent of the occupying power and acts in its stead with regard to the ccTLD .IO „.
The complaint states that .io end-users include „thousands of active crypto platforms“, including exchanges, ICOs and crypto-cash miners, which „generate large amounts of unregulated, untaxed revenues, and trade in billions of dollars a day.
The crypto-currency companies can generate this supposedly unregulated sum of income, the complaint states, taking advantage of „non-existent commercial regulation“ in the disputed territory.
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In addition to unfairly profiting from domain name sales, the complaint alleges that the United Kingdom „tolerates mass criminality“ by overlooking the existence of „thousands of criminal crypto entities“ registered in .io.
The colonial background
The Chagos Archipelago was governed as a dependency of Mauritius by the United Kingdom between 1814 and 1965, when it seceded from Mauritius to establish a new colony designated as, British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT). In addition to the archipelago, Bitcoin Up also includes several other islands that separated from the Seychelles.
The Chagossians were displaced between 1967 and 1973, to make way for a joint military base with the United States, which exists to this day.
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Since the 1980s, Mauritius has sought to regain control over BIOT, claiming that its detachment shortly before Mauritius‘ independence (in 1968) violated a 1960 UN resolution and has compromised the decolonisation process. In 2017, the UN General Assembly referred the decades-long dispute to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
In 2019, the ICJ ordered the United Kingdom to return the Chagos Archipelago to Mauritius „as soon as possible“, and ruled that its continued occupation of the islands was illegal.