You may also be interested in our other article regarding Bulletproof Offshore Hosting and Server Providers.
What Are Domain Seizures?
A Domain Seizure is when a Government, Law Enforcement Agency, or sometimes even a Corporation pressures a Domain Registrar to give them control of a domain name. They can then redirect the domain away from the domain owner’s server(s) and redirect it to nothing, their own site, or a message of their choosing. This basically renders the website useless and it now becomes unusable for people worldwide. They can also just ask for the domain to be suspended which basically renders the domain useless and redirects it to nothing. This is usually done under veiled threats without due process or a proper warrant or court order. If they do get a court order, it will likely be from a US or UK court which has no authority over the country where the website or owner is actually located. On rare occasions, they will go through the trouble of doing this process the correct way and getting the court order from the correct country. This starts the discussion on why this whole process is usually pretty shady and needs to be massively reformed. Most Domain Registrars will not want the hassle of dealing with any legal trouble and won’t bother fighting any of these requests. I can’t blame them as they don’t want to risk their money or their business over a couple domains. Some registrars will suspend domains over just a few DMCA complaints, even though a lot of times DMCA notices are NOT even filed correctly by companies.
Why Should I Care?
“Domain seizures used to be a rare occurrence, but US law enforcement has become adept at exploiting a quirk in the Internet’s governance structure that allows them to seize domain names without due process. The rate has been increasing exponentially with a total of 87 in 2010, 350 in 2011, 758 in mid-2012, to 1,700 in mid-2013. Last month, nearly 5,000 domains were seized via a single court order. We desperately need to start tracking DNS based chilling effects on free speech rights.”
Source: More From Indolering.com
Basically, The US has come to the conclusion that any domain that is connected to or managed by a US entity is subject to US law and can be seized. This includes using a US based Registrar or if your domain extension is overseen by a US company such as Verisign or Afilias which oversee .com .net .org .info and many more. This has even started to become common with other countries, mostly those with close ties to the US such as the UK. All you have to do to see examples of this is search the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit which has been responsible for numerous illegal domain seizures. What the US, the UK, and other countries have failed to realize is they are NOT the world police and their laws don’t apply worldwide. They cannot just tell a website to shutdown or seize their domain just because they want to. Most of the time they do not have a court order, let alone one in the country where the website is actually based. Most of the time they are just doing the dirty work for large corporations and their interests. We need to fight this unjust and unfair process. We need to do it for freedom of speech, due process, and no longer bending over for corporations. More Reading on This Subject
Guide To Choosing a Domain to Avoid Seizures
What Should I Avoid?
-Any domain extensions operated by Afilias.
-Any domain extensions operated by Verisign.
-All .ME domains, as their operator is partnered with Afilias and GoDaddy.
-Any domain extensions that are operated in or affiliated with the USA, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, etc.
-Domain extensions that have registration restrictions like needing to be located within their country. Also some care about what content is hosted such as pornography.
What Should I Look For?
-Countries that don’t have close relations or ties to USA, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, etc.
-Sovereign Independent Countries.
-Countries with high privacy rights and freedom
-Countries that don’t often align with the policies of USA, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia
-Countries that aren’t influenced by other countries or their laws
-Domain extensions that require no registration restrictions (Can be registered by anyone in the world)
-Domain extensions that have had no major seizures in the past
-Domain extensions that are run either by the government they represent or a company/organization within that country. (Some outsource their extension to be managed by a company within another country or may be affiliated with another registrar. Watch For This)
How Can I Find This Information?
Google and Wikipedia are your friends!
I usually just google the country code domain extension (Example: “.ch”)
One of the first few results that should come up is a Wikipedia article telling all about that domain extension.
ICANNWiki is also a very helpful site.
List of Country Code Domain Extensions
What Domain Extensions Do You Suggest?
These are ones I came up with by doing a little research. I may be missing some. If you know of others, feel free to comment.
.AL – Albania
.BO – Bolivia
.BY – Belarus
.CD – Democratic Republic of the Congo
.CH – Switzerland
.CM – Cameroon
.CR – Costa Rica
.DJ – Djibouti
.EC – Ecuador
.GD – Grenada
.IS – Iceland
.KZ – Kazakhstan
.LI – Liechtenstein
.LT – Lithuania
.PK – Pakistan
.RS – Serbia
.RU – Russia
.RW – Rwanda
.SH – Saint Helena
.SI – Slovenia
.SR – Suriname
.SU – Soviet Union
.TD – Chad
.TO – Tonga
.UG – Uganda
.UZ – Uzbekistan
.VN – Vietnam
.WS – Samoa
What About The New gTLD or Generic Top Level Domain Extensions?
Here are examples of gLTD’s if you were wondering what they were. These you will have to look up individually because different companies manage different gLTD’s. For Example: .host is managed by Radix and is based out of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
Guide to Choosing a Domain Registrar to Avoid Seizures
General Registrars with Variety of Extensions
http://www.eranet.com aka http://www.now.top
.CD .RW and .UG
.CH and .LI
.RU & .SU
WHOIS Privacy Protection
Domain WHOIS Privacy Protection is a Must!
You must get domain privacy protection! Some people fake their information when signing up for a domain, but this can be dangerous as you can have your domain suspended if ICANN or the Registrar finds out the information is fake. This can also be dangerous if their is some kind of transfer or dispute with the domain. This WHOIS protection service typically comes free as an extra feature from your Registrar. Sometimes Registrars are extra thirsty for money and will try and charge a small fee for this. I would suggest using a Registrar where WHOIS Protection is free, but if you must use one that charges extra for it, it is better than NOT having it. WHOIS privacy protection is not always bulletproof and may give up your real information if pressured to do so by a government or legal threat. This is where having fake information to register the domain would come in handy. You will have to decide the pros and cons of each route (Real WHOIS Details vs Fake WHOIS Details) as they both can have problems.
The best way to register your domains and servers would be to create an anonymous corporation in a smaller country like Seychelles or Panama and register everything through the corporation. By everything, I mean hosting, domain, SSL certificate, etc. This method is the safest for sure, but it can be very time consuming and costly. This is how the big players do it. Just look at ThePirateBay guys and their shadowy corporation named Reservella who technically owns the site that is based in Seychelles. Here is proof that the anonymous corporation route works wonders. ThePirateBay founders just got acquitted of criminal charges due to a lack of proof of them being the ones currently running the site since it’s registered to Reservella.
While there are many options at the moment for near bulletproof domains, here are a few examples of some of the best methods available.
Register .WS domain through Eranet
This method is used by many of the Russian carding sites.
I don’t believe they offer WHOIS protection for .WS domains, so be careful what personal information you give them.
Both .IS and .TO domains have been pretty bulletproof. These are always great options.
Iceland is known for being a free speech haven and many streaming portals and warez sites utilize Tonga’s relaxed domain policies.