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Chagos Islanders Claim Irish Company Should Compensate Them For 'Misappropriated Digital Legacy'

© AP Photo / Matt DunhamA protest outside the Houses of Parliament in London, after a court ruling decided Chagos Islanders are not allowed to return to their homeland
A protest outside the Houses of Parliament in London, after a court ruling decided Chagos Islanders are not allowed to return to their homeland - Sputnik International, 1920, 30.07.2021
In the 1960s and 1970s, around 1,500 people were ordered to leave the Chagos Islands, an Indian Ocean archipelago. Britain leased the largest island, Diego Garcia, to the United States to build a military base.
A group of refugees from the Chagos Islands have teamed up with a consumer rights’ group to file a legal complaint against a company over the use of the .io domain name.
The .io domain name, which stands for British Indian Ocean Territory, is popular for hosting cryptocurrency websites.
It was bought by Afilias, who are based in Ireland, for US$70 million in 2017.
Two years later, the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled Britain’s continued occupation of the islands was illegal.
This week, the Chagos Refugees Group and the Bahamas-based Crypto Currency Resolution Trust teamed up to bring the action against Afilias.
It is also alleged that the .IO domain name has been “marketed in such a way that it has “become an offshore haven for organised criminals using crypto assets in violation of the OECD consumer guidelines.”
They insist Afilias had “misappropriated the digital legacy of the Chagossian people without compensation.”
CC BY 3.0 / Anne Sheppard / Salomons Atoll in the ChagosSalomons Atoll in the Chagos
Salomons Atoll in the Chagos - Sputnik International, 1920, 07.09.2021
Salomons Atoll in the Chagos
The legal complaint has been filed with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
The .IO domain country code was created in 1997 and remained obscure until 2016, when its popularity exploded as a result of the cryptocurrency boom.
Complaints to Action Fraud about websites with .IO domain names rose to 671 in 2020 and in January this year, the Financial Conduct Authority warned about a company with an .IO domain address scamming people with a cloned form.
Fraud complaints involving .IO have been rising steadily each year with 671 reported to UK’s Action Fraud system in 2020.
Dr Jonathan Levy, the US lawyer representing the Chagos islanders, said while many legitimate companies used the .IO domain, it was also the host of many Ponzi schemes, money laundering fronts and fraudulent cryptocurrency websites.
Dr Levy said: “Afilias as an Irish company acquired .IO knowing full well its sordid past, connection to human rights abuses, and ongoing criminality. They should make restitution and divest before their liability increases.”
Sputnik contacted Afilias for a response but they were unavailable for comment.
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