Best Jurisdictions to Register Domains For Crypto Companies

The Internet has become an essential tool for communication, commerce, and the exchange of ideas.

But not every jurisdiction has the same laws and regulations around domain registration and webhosting.

In this article we take a look at the safest countries for domain registration for crypto companies.

Internet Freedom

The level of freedom that users enjoy on the Internet varies significantly from one country to another. Some countries have strict regulations that limit access to certain websites, while others have a more permissive approach that allows for greater freedom of expression.

This website has been seized
The U.S. government seizes thousands of websites.

Internet freedom refers to the ability to access and share information on the Internet without fear of censorship or reprisal. It is the principle that the Internet should be a space where people can express themselves freely, access diverse sources of information, and engage in open and meaningful dialogue. However, in many countries, the Internet is heavily regulated, and users face restrictions on what they can access and share.

According to Freedom House, a non-governmental organisation that promotes democracy, political freedom, and human rights, the level of internet freedom varies significantly from one country to another. In its annual report on internet freedom, Freedom House assesses the level of internet freedom in 70 countries around the world. The report evaluates the degree of online censorship, the use of surveillance, and the level of user rights protection in each country.

The Worst Countries for Internet Freedom

According to sources, the 10 worst countries for internet freedom are

  1. China –  It’s the most censored country in the world and the government blocks any sites or apps that it believes could interfere with the Chinese communist regime. This means that, in China, to use popular social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and TikTok you’d need a VPN – you also cannot access messaging apps such as WhatsApp. While some VPNs do work in China, the Chinese Firewall is so prevalent that most VPN proxies fail to bypass it and, recently, Chinese developers created an open-encryption tool – Shadowsocks – in order to bypass censorship.
  2. Belarus – In Belarus, the use of any technology that anonymises internet usage is considered illegal – both Tor and VPNs have been illegal since 2015. This also includes private messenger apps, such as Signal and Telegram, making it extremely difficult for citizens to enjoy any sense of online privacy.
  3. Cuba – Cuba’s internet is heavily censored and monitored by its government. Only 18 percent of Cubans have access to the internet and those that do experience slow and unreliable connection speeds. The internet is controlled by the government and, although social media is not banned, it is heavily surveilled.
  4. Vietnam – Vietnam holds some similarities to China – it’s illegal to express opposition to the state. The government has a tight grip on internet freedom by restricting service providers and implementing shutdowns. Online news is censored and the content on websites, such as Facebook and Youtube, is manipulated by government agencies.
  5. Turkmenistan – The Turkmenistani government is notorious for its strict internet policies. Its government imposes heavy online censorship and citizens can only gain access to the internet via a controlled internet service provider (ISP) based in Turkmenistan. As well as this, the internet is very expensive, slow and only available to vetted citizens. VPNs have been banned since 2019.
  6. Iran – Iran’s internet censorship has changed over the years. In 2012, the government blocked a large number of websites and, during the 2017-2018 protests against the government due to the soaring prices of goods, internet access to mobile websites was blocked, including social media sites like Instagram. In 2019, there was a total internet shutdown in response to protests over the price of fuel and there were several more shutdowns in 2022. Since 2013, the country has banned the use of VPNs. 

These countries have strict regulations that limit access to certain websites, monitor online activity, and punish users who violate these regulations.

China, for example, has a sophisticated system of internet censorship known as the Great Firewall

The Chinese government uses this system to block access to websites that it deems politically sensitive or inappropriate. The government also monitors online activity and punishes users who violate its regulations.

Cuba, on the other hand, has a limited internet infrastructure, and the government heavily regulates access to the Internet. The government monitors online activity and punishes users who violate its regulations.

Are the U.S. a good jurisdiction to register a domain?

While the facts speak for themselves, one could argue that even the U.S. is a pretty bad place for internet freedom. Given the amount of seized websites by the U.S. government, how can it not be on the list for the worst places to register a domain? Certainly, you don’t want to get into trouble, operating a website from the U.S. and if you think you are in trouble, you should seek legal assistance immediately.

Freedom activist Ross Ulbricht has been in jail for over a decade just because he operated a website in the U.S. – so can the U.S. be recommended as a jurisdiction to register a domain?

The answer is, it depends on your business case and the content on the website. If you’re not operating in a legal grey area, or facilitate illicit activities on your website, there is a very low probability that you get into troubles. But if you run a website in the field of cryptocurrencies, drugs, weapons etc. you should only do so if you follow the law and have an experienced legal advisor to tell you what you can and cannot do.

Why you may want to stay away from U.S. domains

Domains that end in “.com”, “.net”, “.org”, “.co”, or “.us” are subject to US laws, regardless of where you actually live. All such domains can be confiscated (“seized”) by US authorities without warning if the need arises.

Let’s say you’re planning to publish investigative journalism, or political opinion that goes against US interests, you should definitely be careful.

Publishing revelations of secret information can become very unpleasant for you. Trying to extricate yourself from the situation by registering your domain outside the US won’t work either. The domain registry Verisign is based in the US, while the registrar companies are exempt. The domain will simply be seized directly.

Want a few examples?

In 2010, the US government launched a campaign against counterfeit goods, resulting in 130 sites being shut down on the simple order of a district judge, even though almost all owners lived in China.

Was it a fair process? Not in the slightest.

The site owner was not given any opportunity to respond. He wasn’t even informed. Until he finally saw a large “Seized” logo on his site—regardless of the truth of the allegations.

Or imagine being accused of child pornography without any basis!

That’s what happened to 84,000 website owners whose domains were confiscated entirely mistakenly. Compensation, or even an apology, was sought in vain.

The Best Countries for Internet Freedom

Now what are the best countries for internet freedom, you may wonder. While this again might be subject for discussion and it all depends on your business case and goals, according to the “Internet freedom- Statistics & Facts”, a report issued by Statista, the 10 best countries for internet freedom are:

  1. Estonia
  2. Iceland 
  3. Canada
  4. Germany
  5. Australia
  6. United States
  7. United Kingdom
  8. Netherlands
  9. Sweden
  10. New Zealand

Iceland is a worldwide leader in internet freedom, imposing very few online restrictions and with no reports of government internet shutdowns. The country has invested heavily in its information technology and communication infrastructure to provide citizens with reliable and accessible internet access.

Estonia also ranks highly, with strong protections for user rights and very few restrictions on online content, apart from limiting access to Russian media websites that attempt to spread propaganda.

Canada, Germany, and the United States all have a good level of online freedom, allowing citizens to freely express their opinions without censorship or reprisal from the government. These countries have reliable and affordable internet access, particularly in urban areas.

The other top 10 countries – Australia, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden, and New Zealand – also provide their citizens with a high degree of internet freedom and digital rights. These nations have robust legal frameworks and policies in place to protect internet users and promote the free flow of information online.

Overall, the 10 best countries for internet freedom are characterised by their commitment to upholding civil liberties, respecting user privacy, and maintaining an open and accessible internet landscape for their citizens.

Best Jurisdictions to Register Domains

Based on the information provided in the sources, the best jurisdictions to register domains for optimal privacy and protection are:

  1. Iceland: Iceland stands out as an excellent jurisdiction for registering domains due to its strong protections for user rights and a permissive approach to internet regulation. The country’s Icelandic Modern Media Initiative further enhances freedom of expression and privacy online.
  2. Estonia: Another top choice is Estonia, known for its robust protection of user rights and minimal restrictions on online content. Estonia’s Digital Signature Act allows for the use of digital signatures in legal transactions, making it an appealing jurisdiction for e-commerce businesses.
  3. Canada: Canada offers a good level of online freedom, enabling citizens to freely express their opinions online without the fear of censorship or reprisal. Additionally, Canada’s Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) works to safeguard users from spam and unwanted online communication.

These countries provide a conducive environment for domain registration, ensuring a balance between user privacy, freedom of expression, and protection from unwanted online activities.

Conclusion

The level of internet freedom varies significantly from one country to another. Some countries have strict regulations that limit access to certain websites, monitor online activity, and punish users who violate these regulations. Others have a more permissive approach that allows for greater freedom of expression and access to diverse sources of information.

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