The .io domain name extension is currently in question as the original owners ask for it to be returned.
In the 1990s the U.K.-based firm Internet Computer Bureau purchased the domain name extension on the open market. However, before this time the domain name extension was the former country code top-level domain (ccTLD) for “Indian Ocean”.
The Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean claims that this domain was illegally obtained by British colonization.
It seems that the Chagos Archipelago is currently in dispute between the U.K. and Mauritius, a former British Colony. The dispute has been ongoing since the 1980s.
The U.K. government currently receives an undisclosed amount from sales of .io, which the islanders claim is a “colonial expropriation” of their livelihood and economic property.
The .io domain name extension is widely used with crypto firms. One of the primary draws of the domain is the “nonexistent commercial regulation” of the disputed territory.
The U.K. ruled over the Chagos Archipelago, which was a dependency of Mauritius, from 1814 – 1965. In 1965 it was detached and designated the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) and included several other islands detached from the Seychelles.
Since the 1980s Mauritius has claimed rights over BIOT saying that its detachment just before Mauritius’ independence in 1968 was illegal due to an associated UN resolution. The UN Generali Assembly Court of Justice agreed and demanded the U.K. hand the Archipelago back to Mauritius “as rapidly as possible”
The complaint states:
“The ccTLD .IO rights are a valuable property and generate millions of dollars in fees for ICB annually. The 1997 contract or agreement grants ICB exclusive rights to exploit this asset in the same way colonial powers have delegated exclusive rights in Africa to private companies to act on behalf of the colonizer […] ICB therefore is the Occupying Power’s agent and acts in its stead in the matter of ccTLD .IO.”
It will be interesting to see what happens.