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Start-ups protest “the dark side of .io”

Kevin Murphy, March 17, 2015, 15:43:53 (UTC), Domain Registries

Two technology start-up companies that use .io domain name are to campaign on behalf of the exiled natives of the islands represented by the ccTLD.
As you’re no doubt aware, in recent years .io became a popular TLD among young tech firms squeezed out of .com by the lack of decent available names.
It could be understood to mean “input/output”, but the ccTLD actually represents the British Indian Ocean Territory, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean with a storied past.
It’s managed by UK-based Internet Computer Bureau, which runs several obscure overseas ccTLDs.
Over the last year or so, there’s been increasing awareness among .io registrants of BIOT’s recent history, which isn’t great.
The biggest island in the territory is Diego Garcia. In the 1960s, about 1,800 people — known as Chagossians — lived there.
But they were all forced to leave by the UK government in the early 1970s as part of a move to lease essentially the entire island to the US military.
This was at the height of the Cold War, when the US believed the islands were strategically important.
According to the UK Chagos Support Association, the exile was carried out covertly and many of those kicked off the islands were forced to live in “utmost poverty” in nearby Mauritius.
Now, Diego Garcia is populated by about 3,000 military personnel, mostly Americans, who staff the air and naval bases that were established following the Chagossians’ exile.
But the US lease is due to expire next year, so those backing the Chagossian cause reckon they’ve got an unprecedented opportunity to get the UK government to let them return.
You can read about the campaign here.
How does this all relate to domain names?
Two .io-using start-ups — and — said late last week that they have pledged their support to the cause.
In a press release,’s “Chief Everything Officer” Ben Verbeken said the company will soon launch a web site at, “where companies can pledge to match the cost of registering their .io domain name with a donation to a Chagossian group or charity.”
.io names currently cost about $100 for the first year and about $50 a year thereafter.
Verbeken said: “When we learned about the Chagossian people’s story, we had two choices. We could give up our domain name and change the name of our business. But we would just be running away from the problem. So we decided to accept our social responsibility and actually help the Chagossian people a bit.”
The domain currently leads to a placeholder.
You can read more of the political back-story at The Guardian

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Comments (13)

  1. Acro says:

    This story is so old, GigaOm that broke the news last year is about to fold. 😛

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      The story is about, which is so news it doesn’t even exist yet.
      The fact that the land deal happened in 1971 is old news. Well spotted.
      GigaOm also got stuff wrong, by the way. The UK government doesn’t get any money when you register a .io domain, apart from what the registry pays in taxes.

  2. I have 200 of the best .io names says:

    Nobody gives a shat…survival of the fittest, and all that.

  3. travis says:

    funny they chose to use the 1 extension for their campaign site…that they are campaigning against lol. More awareness.

    • Ben Verbeken says:

      To be clear: we’re not campaigning against the use of .io domain names, but against the fact that the Chagossians don’t see a dime from their popular TLD.
      Exactly why we ask fellow .io startups to match the cost of their domain renewals in donations to the Chagos support groups.

  4. Adrian Kinderis says:

    Be careful Kevin;
    “As you’re no doubt aware, in recent years .io became a popular TLD among young tech firms squeezed out of .com by the lack of decent available names”
    You’ll find yourself in trouble. There is plenty of availability in .com (you just need to use a long name and hypens are also effective too). 🙂
    and yes, in case it is not obvious, I am beign sarcastic.

  5. DNsale says:

    $100 for a .io is quite a lot!

  6. Jill says:

    Huh. Well. I suppose if we go with that article’s “logic” then there is no reason to purchase ANY nation’s TLD, is there?? I mean, no nation is perfect and oh my God, the US once supported slavery – so dont buy .US names. What about .CO ? Columbia? Like your drugs, support .CO! What an incredibly stupid article.
    Hey, “I have 200 of the best .io names”, show us your names!

  7. BulkWHOis says:

    which tech company would be interested in .io??

  8. Ben Verbeken says:

    FYI, we just launched yesterday.

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