Country Code Top-Level Domains (ccTLDs) are internet domain name extensions that are designated for a country or sovereign state. Each is identified by two-letter codes such as .IT for Italy, .CA for Canada, and .IN for India. The primary purpose of a ccTLD is to show its association with a particular geographical locations.
In addition to its local usage, ccTLD domain names have long been used as .com alternatives or for domain name hacks. For instance, years ago, the .LY extension was popular because of services like Bitly. More recently .AI and .IO have become popular domain name extensions that are sought after by companies and domain investors alike from around the world.
While extensions like .AI and .IO are ccTLDs, some users may not even realize their designation as country codes. A registrant of a .AI domain name may only think about it in relation to Artificial Intelligence – AI – rather than its official designation as the country code for Anguilla. In fact, a registrant may register a .AI domain name at US-based domain registrar like Dynadot or GoDaddy, but the governance of .AI is under the jurisdiction of the government of Anguilla. This is evidenced by the Terms & Conditions page on the Whois.ai website: “The usage must not violate the laws of Anguilla.”
When domain registrants use ccTLD domain names, they should understand the domain names are subject to the home country’s governance.
Notably, an article in The Verge yesterday highlighted what happens when the website content on a ccTLD domain name runs afoul of local laws and regulations. The article was specifically about a .AF domain name (.AF is the ccTLD for Afghanistan):
New: the Taliban took control of the domain “https://t.co/LaL3WSEJex” (af being the TLD of Afghanistan). With the Taliban now controlling the country, it is taking back domains. This had the effect of killing the https://t.co/LaL3WSEJex Mastodon instance https://t.co/AScafokHtc pic.twitter.com/igzbydLeu8
— Joseph Cox (@josephfcox) February 12, 2024
Investors and users should be aware that they may register a ccTLD domain name at a domain registrar in their home country, but the usage of the domain name is governed by the country that