Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Question mark hangs over trendy tech startup domains (theregister.co.uk)
108 points by shioyama on June 3, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 63 comments

This is not the crisis it's being portrayed as. Up until a year or two ago. .io was run directly by the ICB. It had issues as it's not straight forward managing root level dns and the other related tasks of a registry.

Since then a company called Afilias is running .io (they also run .org, .info among many others). Whoever maintains governance of the .io tld is separate from the actual infrastructure running .io. As long as the owners of .io want to keep cashing the checks then nothing will change as the whole operation is outsourced. This is similar to the island of tuvalu outsourcing all of .tv to verisign (they are the .com registry)

Source: I work in the domain industry

I think the point is that if given to Mauritius, it will no longer be an independent territory and thus will no longer warrant a ccTLD.

On the other hand, .su is still going strong

The .io domain name is both expensive and somewhat unreliable. For example: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15293578

We have used it for many years at https://clara.io, but we are moving away from it back to .com for all new services.

10, probably more like 15 years ago, someone told me "if the .com is available, get the .com - always the .com. If it isn't available, get a different .com"

That’s pretty much my policy. It baffles me that .io ever took off: 6x the cost, significantly reliable, and probably less trustworthy to the average user.

Cost and reliability notwithstanding, I don't think most businesses who own .io domain names are selling to the average customer.

In the scope of running most companies, it rounds the same as 6 times $0.

> This week, the UN's general assembly voted overwhelmingly 116-6 to condemn the UK's occupation of the Chagos Islands. The non-binding resolution endorsed a decision by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in February that said the UK continued claim was illegal and the islands should be returned to the former British territory of Mauritius

The UK is a permanent member of the UN Security Council and has veto power on all substantive matters taken up by the Council.

Doesn't that mean that they can pretty much ignore anything the General Assembly or most other international bodies tell them to do, just like the United States, Russia, and China do, because actually enforcing anything usually involves something that ends up requiring some kind of action that will require Security Council approval?


The point of the UN is not to be a world government. It is to be a forum for the five major power victors of WWII to coordinate things.

Okay, that’s a bit flippant, but it’s mostly true.

There is a lot of discussion about how illogical it is that, for example, India or Japan aren’t permanent members and how the UN should be reformed. IMO this misses the point. If you made the structure more “fair”, the powerful countries would simply not bother participating. International relations are mostly based on power, not fairness.

I could set up a perfectly fair world government in my living room tomorrow, but it’s unlikely that anyone would follow its edicts.

> Okay, that’s a bit flippant, but it’s mostly true.

To the extent it was true, that model got overturned due to Korea which demonstrated that it could not work and that the UN would fail utterly without a workaround for veto-induced paralysis; such a workaround was adopted in 1950 and has been used several times since (first notable use being to bypass the Anglo-French veto of a UN cease-fire and peacekeeping force in the Suez crisis in 1956.

This is interesting, and if true it challenges my understanding of how the UN works significantly. Can you elaborate?

I'll defer to Wikipedia for further elaboration:


> The UK is a permanent member of the UN Security Council and has veto power on all substantive matters taken up by the Council.

> Doesn't that mean that they can pretty much ignore anything the General Assembly or most other international bodies tell them to do, just like the United States, Russia, and China do

No, the fact that they are world power backed up by the US and a number of other major powers in most things usually means that, though.

> because actually enforcing anything usually involves something that ends up requiring some kind of action that will require Security Council approval?

Facing the potential of Soviet veto producing a Security Council deadlock in the Korean War era, the US came up with a solution to that which was adopted in A/RES/377A (3 Nov 1950), the “Uniting for Peace” resolution, under which the General Assembly makes recommendations for coordinated action in the event of a Security Council deadlock. This has been invoked roughly a dozen times since, and effectively provides a General Assembly route around Security Council vetoes.

The first use outside the context of Korea (in the 1956 Suez crisis) was against a UK/France joint veto in the Security Council.

Not saying you are incorrect, but I got the impression from your comment that 377A had something to do with the initial UN action in the Korean War, so context for anyone else that got that impression:

The UN involvement in the Korean War was authorized by Resolution 83[1] and Resolution 84[2] and the votes were held while the Soviet Union vetoed the security council because China's seat was held by the ROC, not PRC. 377A was a way to prevent vetoes from blocking future action in that and coming conflicts.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_Security_Counci...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_Security_Counci...

The UK paid Mauritius £3m for the islands. Mauritius was happy with the deal.

How is there anything illegal about it?

Legality isn't the issue here, it's morality.

That said I think there is some evidence of potentially criminal activity in the treatment of those living on the islands. John Pilger famously made a documentary about it.

So if I pay your govt 3 million (or 3 billion (or 3 trillion)) in exchange I get to deport you, your family and everyone you know to wherever I want? Legal yeah?

Was the Louisiana Purchase not legal?

It's not legal to sell something you don't own.

.ai is run manually by a hard working bloke in Anguila, ironic.

Ah, that guy! I learnt about Vince Cate from this old Japanese documentary, “Crypto Wars” from 1997:


(In Japanese, enable subtitles with the [cc] button.)

“At the end of February, hoping to escape the chaos of America’s cryptography regulations, developers from corporations representing the cryptography business have gathered in Anguilla, in the Caribbean Sea. The Financial Cryptography Conference.

This island, which does not levy taxes on corporations is willing to lend a hand to the Cypherpunks and those companies in the cryptography business.

The Cypherpunks that have already arrived greet Sameer and his friends. They’ve all been asked to come by Cypherpunks member Vince Cate, a resident of the island.

Three years ago Vince left America’s west coast to move here, a place without any internet service. At that time he had a plan in mind.

Anguilla is a small island with a population of only 9000. A tourism industry which depends on resort customers from America and the sale of commemorative stamps are Anguilla’s primary sources of income. However revenue from tourism is sluggish compared to other islands in the area.

After arriving here the first thing Vince did was to preach to the Anguillan government about how wonderful the internet was. And in the end, even though the island was poor it was wired for the Internet.”

Anguilla is one of those places of tragic beauty: the vast beaches and easily traversed shallow terrain also mean the soil on the island is nearly useless for agriculture. For centuries it was a destitute backwater. It seems like poetic justice that the information age has randomly handed a valuable asset there.

I am missing the irony here. Help?

The domain that often represents artificial intelligence is run very manually by one human.

Apparently I have none, artificial or otherwise. Thanks!

That sounds interesting. Do you have a link? I didn’t see anything relevant on google.

Thank you. Not sure how I didn’t see that.

I'm not sure if it works in all browsers, but for me at least, even http://ai is enough to reach the site.

I'm sure admin@ai has a hell of a time getting his email address past naive form validation regexes.

I’ve run into issues with sites failing to validate .io addresses.

Wow, that’s crazy. "ai" by itself is sort of the ultimate domain name.

I had to go to http://ai. in chrome (note the "." for the root is at the end), "ai." will autoexpand. Interesting.

It should, it is a valid domain name after all. something.ai is a subdomain of the .ai domain.

Interesting, this used to work for me but it seems now that Chrome has went out of its way to break it because it still works in Curl.

But wtf, Firefox redirects it to uniregistry.com :o

> But wtf, Firefox redirects it to uniregistry.com :o

Same thing on mobile, but it's taking you to `ai.com` first, and then redirects to Unregistry as it looks to be for sale.

And as another commenter has stated `http://ai.` works as expected in FF.

But is is ai taking me to ai.com? Why is firefox making that choice?

I've always found the .io domain somewhat laughable for tech companies. Maybe its popularity was fueld by Google's I/O conference.

But except of legal affairs the climate crisis is the next reason not to rely on this domain. If the humanity continues its course the ".io island" will soon be under water.

To me, it always seemed like a semi-jokey domain in the way solo developers used to have "Made with [heart/coffee emoji] in San Francisco" on the footer of their personal websites.

Solo developers? Don't big companies like AirBnB do that?

Is there a precedent that points towards a possible outcome for .io? Has there been a similar case of a country ceasing to exist with an impact on its gtld?


The most surprising one, IMO, is .oz, which was used for Australia. So, a top level code was changed even though nothing substantial happened to the country.

I remember the .ly dangers around 2011

Anyone know the fallout from that? I see fewer .ly domains in general use, but have there actually been registry policy changes?

considering that the .su domain still works fine, I kinda doubt .io will ever go away even if the sea swallows the islands

I’m sure I saw this thread a few days ago with the same comments. Glitch?

Mods sometimes boost an older post to the front page and patch up the timestamps on the comments. Perhaps that’s one on these?

Return the islands? To whom? They are populated by "95.88% British / American" it seems.

Regardless of the moral questions surrounding the resettlement of the people who lived on the islands, I do wonder what the legal implications are of Mauritius accepting the money to begin with. Surely if you sell an Island, you can't later claim that it still belongs to you?

In 1968 the "UK paid the self-governing colony of Mauritius £3m for the islands" which equates to approximately £52m today[1]. At the very least, you would expect that Mauritius would have to pay this back. But, there is also the question of value. The islands, especially given the state of the world today, are probably worth much more than £52m from a strategic point of view.

> Mauritius prime minister Pravind Jugnauth has attempted to smooth things over by saying the country is prepared to reach an agreement with the US and UK to allow the Diego Garcia military base to continue to exist – presumably in return for a fat check each year - arguing that such an approach would "provide a higher degree of legal certainty" than the current situation.

Yes, that /is/ a presumption, but seems quite likely. I still think my above point about ownership stands. If a country sells an island, they surely also sell any claims to sovereignty too. Looking into it further though, it doesn't appear that the islands were sold, but that they were split off from the territory (along with some others too) to form another, the British Indian Ocean Territory. Mauritius was compensated the £3m.

So, I suppose what this really comes down to is the question of colonial ownership, but the implications of this are huge, after all, the US, Canada, Australia, aren't all these countries also former colonies?

[1] http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/currency-converter/ using 1965 as start year and 3,000,000 pounds as start value.

> I do wonder what the legal implications are of Mauritius accepting the money to begin with.

Foreign relations go by their own rules; the legal framework they operate under is paper-thin and is constantly being rewritten, often under "might makes right" principles only vaguely masked; but the last century was supposed to mark a shift towards a system of "justice" between nations that works under more humane principles.

For colonization in particular, the validity of this sort of transaction is typically discounted by the self-evident disparity of knowledge and wealth between actors: if I buy gold with seashells while pointing a gun at you, am I really doing something "legal"? If I promise not to do X as part of the buy, then I do it anyway - simply because my guns are bigger than yours - doesn't that void the transaction? If I buy land where people live, then I break their human rights, am I not infringing moral laws that transcend any specific legal framework?

In this particular case, the problems are well-documented.

> I suppose what this really comes down to is the question of colonial ownership, but the implications of this are huge

Only to the untrained eye. Please read up on colonization and decolonization efforts, there is plenty of material. The short story is: if UK and US really believe the principles they have been using as basis of international law since WWI, they should just accept they are wrong in this case, and make amends. Otherwise, we revert to the pre-WWI situation where the world is a jungle and the only thing that matters is the size of any given tiger.

> If a country sells an island, they surely also sell any claims to sovereignty too.

That is a question a judge can answer differently depending on the circumstances of the deal. Was the buyer informed correctly about the consequences? Was the deal made under duress? Was the buyer legally mandated to perform the sale?

The diplomatic cable mentioned in ElReg's article is illustrative of the kind of circumstances the deal was made in:


From what I've read of it the mauritian government didn't really want to sell but the British implied strongly that it would be a pre-requisite for them gaining their independence...

To quote a british official (from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chagos_Archipelago_sovereignty...)

"in theory, there were a number of possibilities. The Premier and his colleagues could return to Mauritius either with Independence or without it. On the Defence point, Diego Garcia could either be detached by order in Council or with the agreement of the Premier and his colleagues. The best solution of all might be Independence and detachment by agreement, although he could not of course commit the Colonial Secretary at this point. "

Some people have the opinion that colonial acquisitions in general should be relinquished, even if they were legally acquired and there are still treaties permitting them, such as Gibraltar. I think they see who they go back to as a secondary issue and it's the principle that they should be relinquished that is most important.

it is similar to me buying land in any country. the land is still a part of that country

The article provides a clear and detailed explanation of how the traditional inhabitants, who had settled there over a century ago, were forcibly re-settled by the British. The court decision in question calls for them to be returned to the descendants of those people.

I presume you got the quoted statistic from the Chagos Islands info box on that Wikipedia page. If so, I'd urge you to scroll down just a little bit farther to learn the info that the rest of us read in the article. Here's a link to help:


My sense is that people mostly just don't want to hear or think about the sometimes messy way that things got to be the way they are (I saw "-2 points" when discussing this a few months ago, https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19626519 ).

This isn't unique to tech startups. I live in Massachusetts and do not regularly think about what exactly happened to the Massachusett people. It was not great.

If they get their island back, why don't the Native Americans get their whole countries back too?

it was also never their island, they lived there as employees only. their ancestors were brought to the uninhabited island by the French

it would be like claiming an oil rig or country estate as your family's property because you've had several generations of drillers/domestic staff employed by the owners

No, it's not like that at all, because an oil rig counts as a vessel, whereas an island is land.

It’s a bit different when the territory is settled by non-indigenous people for a few generations, versus occupied, or just a few structures built and no one really lives there at all.

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact