Klaus Breyer Tech Leadership, Product Delivery & Startup Strategy.

The .io Dilemma: Navigating Ethical Concerns in Domain Choice

As someone involved in tech and startups for a while now, I’ve had my fair share of experiences with domain names. Choosing a suitable TLD (top-level domain) can be a daunting task, and it’s something that many people need to give more thought to.


For a long time, I thought that the “.io” TLD was a safe bet. It seemed catchy and modern and had a certain techy vibe that I was drawn to. However, over time I started to hear rumblings about potential issues with this domain name choice. There were rumors that the ownership of the “.io” TLD was being contested or that a sketchy organization owned it. I didn’t know the specifics, but something wasn’t quite right.

It was only a recent discussion on one of my Hacker News posts that I started to delve into the issue. Several users expressed concerns about using the “.io” TLD, citing ethical and political considerations I hadn’t considered before. This conversation prompted me to research and explore the issue more deeply.

What I discovered was surprising and unsettling. The “.io” TLD is the ccTLD (country code top-level domain) for British Indian Ocean Territory, a territory whose sovereignty and existence are fragile at best. The original inhabitants of this territory, known as the Chagossians, were forcibly expelled in the 1970s to make way for a US military base. The situation is complex and multifaceted, but severe ethical and political implications are associated with using this domain name.

The Dilemma

I’ve already reserved a “.dev” TLD, which is a good alternative. However, I’m left with a dilemma. What should I do with my existing “.io” domain name? Should I redirect it to my new domain name to prevent someone else from using it, or should I let it go?

But I want to pay attention to the issues surrounding the.io TLD. What can I do to mitigate the harm that my domain might be causing?

  • First, I can use my platform and voice to raise awareness about the situation in British Indian Ocean Territory and the ethical concerns surrounding the .io TLD. I can share articles and resources that shed light on the problem and encourage others to educate themselves and take action.

  • Second, I can donate some of my profits from my website to organizations supporting the displaced Chagossian community and advocating for their rights. This is a tangible way to positively impact and contribute to a cause that aligns with my values.

  • Third, I can explore alternative TLDs for future projects. While I may not be able to give up my .io domain, I can choose to use different TLDs for new websites or projects. As mentioned, I have already reserved a .dev domain and plan to use it for future endeavors.

In conclusion, I still grapple with the ethical implications of using a .io TLD for my website. While I cannot simply give up my domain without risking it falling into the wrong hands, I can take steps to raise awareness about the situation and support organizations that are working towards positive change. By sharing my thoughts and experiences, others will be inspired to consider the impact of their online presence and take action toward a more just and ethical internet.