The State of Privacy Regarding Domain Name Extensions

Reading Time: 5 mins

A man’s home is his castle, no one can intrude in it or force you out, even the king of England! We all know that social media accounts are not our home as we can be banned or censored there, but how about self-hosted websites? are they truly our home?

The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the crown. It may be frail – its roof may shake – the wind may blow through it – the storm may enter – the rain may enter – but the King of England cannot enter.

The Castle Doctrine by William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham

Table of Contents


US government seizes dozens of US website domains connected to Iran“, this was a news that went viral a few years ago and made the majority of us Iranians happy (including me), long story short: there were a bunch of .com websites which were owned by dozens of propaganda channels that were taken down by the domain name’s registrar by the order of the government.

But there’s something really sad and shocking about what happened for me and for everyone caring about freedom of speech and self custody, that internet domain names can be “seized” which means your domain name is like the amount of money you have in your bank account, it is yours only because the government wants it to be yours, not that you truly own it. I used to consider self-hosted websites a private and safe home so that as a man’s home is his castle, we can defend ourselves from whoever trying to force us out (as happened in “Instagram fixes outage that told millions their accounts were suspended“), or intrude in our private corner (as in “Twitter abruptly bans all links to Instagram, Mastodon, and other competitors“), but even the domains we use on self-hosted websites aren’t in our custody.

Generic TLDs

The most widely used generic Top Level Domains (TLDs) like .com, .net and .org, are all under US jurisdiction so they are all seize-prone.

Name Entity Administrator
.com Commercial Verisign (US)
.net Network Verisign (US)
.org Organization Public Interest Registry (US)
.app Apps Google (US)
.biz Business NeuStar (US)
.blog Blogs Automattic (US)
.dev Software Development Google (US)
.info Information Identity Digital (US)


Let’s break ccTLDs into 2 categories, Widely Used ccTLDs and some none-widely used ones that are attractive for me personally which I call Honorable Mentions.

1- Widely Used ccTLDs

There are some good domain name extensions that are coincidentally good to be used for other use cases than being affiliated with the country of origin, here is a list of my favorite ones:

Name CountryUse Case Technical Contact
.co ColombiaCompany NeuStar (US)
.tv Tuvalu Television Verisign (US)
.me Montenegro Me GoDaddy (US) &
Identity Digital (US) &
DoMEn d.o.o (ME)
.io British Indian Ocean Territory International Organization Identity Digital (US)
.ai Anguilla Artificial Intelligence Vincent Cate (AI)

As we see in the table, except .ai domain the rest of the extensions are managed by US corporations, The good thing about ccTLDs is that only the Technical Contacts of the domains are the choke point of being seize-prone and the Manager and Administrative Contacts are usually entities within the associated nation that don’t have a history of seizing domains (at least yet).

So technically speaking you can be deprived of your domain but legally it’s up to the associated country, and here comes an important question: If the US decides to take your ccTLD domain down, will it happen?

2- Honorable Mentions Among ccTLDs

These country code top level domains are owned by countries that have a better history of respecting internet freedom.


Top on the list is .ch, the Swiss extension which stands for Confoederatio Helvetica.

Confoederatio Helvetica (Helvetic Confederation), is the Latin name for the country, which was used because of its neutrality with regard to the four official languages of Switzerland


Switzerland has a long history of neutrality and this can be applied to the government’s attitude towards the internet too, WikiLeak’s switch to .ch after it’s .org Domain Getting Downed By Hosting Service, and also that privacy friendly companies like Proton are located there can be good examples of why the Swiss domains can be a better choice comparing to other ccTLDs.


Second on the list is Iceland, world’s most free country regarding the internet based on Freedom On The Net’s index (2022). Iceland and Estonia are the only countries in the list that have a score above 90.

Censorship is prohibited by the Icelandic Constitution and there is a strong tradition of protecting freedom of expression that extends to the use of the Internet.

This is mirrored by Iceland being rated the most free of the 70 countries in Freedom House's Freedom On the Net 2022 Reportat all.



Third on the list is .ee of Estonia, a country with one of the world’s highest penetration rates for internet, also famous for being world’s first country to offer an E-Residency, which shows just how much net-savvy it is! Estonia is ranked 2nd in Freedom On The Net’s index.

Internet in Estonia has one of the highest penetration rates in the world.



At the end of the day, no matter whether it’s a US corporation or a casual government, or even a low profile government like Switzerland, that you don’t have custody over your domains makes you vulnerable to different types of attacks, it can be due to an order from a court, or simply because of a technical issue, as in October 7th 2021, An entire top-level domain got knocked offline and nothing could be done because Arizona was asleep.

Ethereum Name Service (ENS) is an equivalent of DNS on Ethereum Blockchain, if you buy a domain name and mint it on the blockchain almost no one can take it from you, just as any other token that you mint on a blockchain.

The logic behind .eth domains is set in a way that .eth domains resolve to specific IPFS (InterPlanetary FileSystem) directories which can be HTML files, now if that HTML file is an SPA (Single Page Application) that retrieves data from a specific server with a specific IP, you actually have a website whose domain is hosted on decentralized entities (Ethereum and IPFS).


We DO HAVE critical issues regarding custody over our domain names, as social media platforms can easily “moderate” and “regulate” us the way it suits them, blogs and self hosted websites are the last stands we have against non-self-custodial platforms.
Having these self hosted websites being accessible via a domain name not truly belonging to us can make our privacy and freedom prone to a variety of perilous probable attacks, to be safe against such attacks we must either get domains managed/administered by low profile companies or governments (like the .site extension I have :D) or go with decentralized domains name extensions.

.eth domains are currently the only “kinda” accepted decentralized solutions, and yet there are questions regarding it’s maturity and usability, to know more about ENS and .eth domains, read the second part of this post on Are We ENS/IPFS Yet.

Who is the opponent? in the story of our privacy, not even angels make a way, let alone the evil.

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Ghazal #190 by Saadi Shirazi (1210 - 1292)

By elamir

🧠 Logician (INTP) ❤️ A good friend 💻 Software developer 💊 Medical science student 🌐 A global citizen from Iran


  1. Wish it was longer so i could know more about it
    But instructive 💙
    You rock

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