The Diego Garcia dispute hits cyberspace

Author name: 
James Mortensen
Samuel Bashfield
Publisher: 
The Interpreter
Year: 
2021
Month: 
January
Abstract: 

As internet domains go, .io is a money spinner. Would a change to the “British Indian Ocean Territory” cancel an asset?

The dispute over the ownership of Diego Garcia and the rest of the Chagos Archipelago involves a complex array of legal, human rights, security and geopolitical issues. The United Kingdom wants to retain the islands it calls the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT). Mauritius wants to see the islands ceded to it. The United States wants to keep its military base. And many of the Chagossian diaspora who were forcibly removed decades ago want to return.

This multi-sided dispute has now been further complicated by arguments over ownership of the territory’s internet domain – “.io”. It seems that digital players may be increasingly caught up in geopolitics.

The National Security College (NSC), with the support of the Department of Defence, is leading a two-year research project on Australia’s Indo-Pacific strategy in the Indian Ocean. As a part of this project, this paper analyses how the profitable “.io” domain issue may affect the Chagos Archipelago sovereignty dispute. This paper first appeared on the Lowy Institute’s ‘The Interpreter’ on 21 January 2021.

Image: Jordan Harrison/Unsplash

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