Thursday, June 18, 2015

Why do I use .eu as TLD for my blog?

Thinking about which Top-Level Domain (TLD) you use for your blog, personal- or company-website is very important. On one side you have the obvious reasons like the market you want to reach and the language you will use on your site. If you are aiming for your own country, you will probably settle for TLDs like .us, .nl, .uk, .de, et cetera. But if you target internationally (or multiple countries) you might also consider TLDs like .com, .net and .org.

Then there is also the fact that you might want to secure future TLDs by claiming them, just in case you want to expand to other countries or go international altogether. In essence, the perspective here is mostly business and its current and future business plans.

But did you consider the ability of seizuring domains by governments? Because this might seriously disrupt your business.

Top Level Domains and U.S. control

Wikipedia has an extensive list of Top-Level Domains and for the obvious reasons I am not going to repeat them here (Wikipedia does a way better job there). But lets take a look at the following list with the best known TLDs.
  • .com
  • .org
  • .net
  • .int
  • .edu
  • .gov
  • .mil
The TLDs .int is reserved for situations like international treaties. And the TLDs .edu, .gov and .mil are explicitly reserved for U.S. organisations (like military, governments and universities). The remaining TLDs .com, .org and .net are for commercial and organisational use and are also available to the rest of the world.

But all these TLDs are under the control and jurisdiction of the United States and therefore the U.S. has to power to seize any domain-name associated to it at once, sometimes without a court-order and without any damages being compensated for to the 'owner'.

So, if your hosting is for instance in Germany and you have a .com TLD, your site can be taken down by the U.S. for (probably in your opinion) no good reason. Your website would still be available under its IP-address or one of your other domain-names, but the specific domain would be offline (likely forever).

There is an extensive article on (Uncle Sam: If It Ends in .Com, It's Seizable) which describes this ability of the U.S. in more detail with examples.

The fact a .com, .org and .net address can be seized by another government than my own is one reason that I did not choose for one of those three. The same applies to TLDs from other countries. Germany has control over .de, Belgium over .be, et cetera. The Dutch law also does not apply there. This is the way this is designed.

But why not the TLD .nl?

You might question now why I did not choose .nl (from The Netherlands, the country where I live). The very reason for this is the fact that my potential reach of visitors would be limited mostly to The Netherlands. I could ignore this fact and just put out English blogs on it. But ask yourself, how often do you visit a .nl domain? Or a .de? Or a .us? I hardly visit the last two for instance for (probably) no specific good reason other then the market the website is serving.

So, I cannot choose from the three public TLDs and I cannot choose for TLDs related to specific countries if I do not want other countries seizing my domain-name. I also cannot choose my own country's TLD because I don't want to bind myself to a specific country and 'exclude' all the rest of the world.

And this is where .eu comes in...

The TLD .eu is one of the few that is not bound to a country but to a supranational organisation (.nato is for instance the other one, teusink.nato probably would not happen -- frowny face here). It is international, it is under control of a government that is represented by my government and the EU law applies here. Whereas my own country's TLD is focused on domestic websites, .EU tends to be focused to and for entities in the EU, but also internationally.

And it cannot be seized by any other government, without taking the appropriate legal steps in the EU.

But what about hosting?

I have chosen on purpose a Dutch hosting provider (could be any EU hosting provider b.t.w., but why not support my own economy?). So my hosting and DNS would be Dutch and would therefore fall under Dutch law and procedures.

But what about Blogger?

And here is the one disadvantage of all considering my blog. I use many Google products (I did read the privacy and security policies of Google by the way), and Blogger is one of them. I know it is an American service and that it is most likely hosted outside the EU. I know I do not have any legal protection from my government here.

It would be a sad day if this blog would be put down by the U.S. (or Google, it is a free service after all). But that is not as harsh for me as losing my domain-name, to which I tie my identity more than a blog hosting provider.

I could build my own blogging solution of course, but I lack time to keep patching it and I am not confident enough at present moment to outsource such a (i.m.o. delicate) job to a company inside the EU. Wordpress, for instance, has also a Cloud option so they do the heavy lifting of maintenance. But it would also be a non-EU based company and then Blogger would do the job just fine for now.

Was this thought process really worth it?

In regard to my own blog, likely not (although I really really wanted a .eu for the reasons of a international oriented domain-name that is under control of the EU or my own country). It was a nice thought exercise about this topic though. I believe I can better help businesses now on questions such as these.

Have you ever thought of this? Would you make a different choice now, or are you happy the way things are now? There is no right or wrong here, there are choices and consequences. Nothing more.

Thank you for your time to read this and feel free to drop a comment! I would appreciate it and I certainly will respond to it.



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