Which domain for an independent Catalonia?

Oriol Torres i Tornel's picture
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Almost every user remembers the time when the most common internet domain was ‘.com’. As new ones were appearing and becoming increasingly popular, we got used to other ‘top-level domains’ – which is their technical name – such as the ‘.org’ and the ‘.net’. Currently, a great deal of domains exist and many more will be approved, because the situation has radically changed and because a business model has also been developed around this, mainly based – I’m afraid – on privileges and speculation.

However, there is a thing that has not changed a lot during the last few years regarding domains. There is a type, called ‘country-code Top-level domains’, which continue to be managed according to political geography and, particularly, by the borders that define the privileged division in such a field, so to say, the State. This means that such domains, always made up of two letters, are kept only for sovereign countries or for depending territories, neither of which is the case for Catalonia.

Meanwhile, many Catalan speakers have jumped into the new world that the internet represents as an opportunity to express, in a singular and often creative way, the national incompletion they are carrying. Some of them have considered the internet as a virgin land and they have wanted to build there the country they still don’t have. Therefore, it is not by chance that Catalan language is exceptionally over-represented in Wikipedia and that ‘.cat’ was the first linguistic domain created in the whole world. Other examples are the achievement of Twitter’s Catalan version thanks to Albert Cuesta or the campaign #LinkedInCatalan, which will sooner or later achieve the same thing at the professional network.

Now that an independent Catalonia is no longer a pipedream, that we are starting to plan how we would act after achieving full sovereignty and after reaching the agreement that the first thing we should do is stop looking at our bellies – please – then the question of which country-code Top-level domain would correspond to us arises. In the ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 standard list, which defines two-letter country codes and is used to create territorial domains for new states, we find our friend Andorra in the first position and we smile. Then, let’s get to the point and go to the ‘C’, where we start looking for combinations that have one of the other 8 letters in ‘Catalunya’. We travel to Canada (CA), Chile (CL), Cuba (CU), China (CN) and Cyprus (CY), and we fear the worst…but, wait! Where is the ‘T’? Yes! For a while it was used by the Anglo-American condominium of Canton and Enderbury Islands (CT), but in 1979 it become part of the Republic of Kiribati and thus ceased to exist on the world’s political map.

The fortune of geopolitics is therefore still keeping for Catalonia the ‘.ct’ domain. Even though this issue had been debated between 1996 and 2005, the achievement of the ‘.cat’ domain by the Associació puntCAT and the fact that independence was back then an unreachable objective put the initiative to sleep, I believe. I don’t know if it is too early to set it out, but it is obvious that the overlap between the ‘.cat’ and the future ‘.ct’ will have to be tackled with time and the differences between the two of them having to be explained because one domain or the other will have a totally different scope. The language is one thing, and the borders and national identification documents are something totally different.

by Oriol Torres i Tornel

Consultant in #Digital Education, Online Ethics and Online Innovation

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