🖥️ A Remote Battle Over Digital Territory
On land, the Chagos Islands sit 1,100 miles southwest of the Indian coast. Online, they sit squarely in the middle of a battle over digital domain names between nations. As NFTs have gained popularity and created a digital gold rush in recent years, many firms are using the web address .io for their domains. The question of who owns the .io address (which designates the Chagos Islands in the British Indian Ocean Territory) is heating up between Britain and Mauritius.
As The Guardian notes, Mauritius claims the UK illegally separated the remote atoll from their country in 1968, and are now profiting millions off the sale of .io domain names which rightfully belong to exiled Chagossians.
“The UK has no doubt as to our sovereignty over the British Indian Ocean Territory, which we have held continuously since 1814. Mauritius has never held sovereignty over the territory and the UK does not recognise its claim,” said a representative of the British government.
If the battle over internet addresses wages with .io, at least there's a governing body to turn to: the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (Iana). As JD Supra notes, unauthorized blockchain domain name sales have become a growing problem, yet blockchains are so unregulated that there is no authority to turn to for resolution. Might this issue help turn the tide on government oversight of blockchains?
Colonialism has always been about extracting resources. This battle over the Chagos Islands may be one of the first instances of European colonialism bleeding over into the Internet Age.