By Sadira Sittampalam
Unstoppable Domains is a company that has begun selling domain names on the decentralised web. This is huge as all domains on the internet today are actually just leased out to people, while Unstoppable Domains will be giving you a domain that you can personally own. This means that it will not be regulated by any party, as this website is entirely your property, which compared to how much regulation can happen on the current internet of ours, is very encouraging for free speech and anti-censorship.
Before getting into the specifics, you must understand the magnitude of this. In 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto introduced the blockchain. This was introduced as a decentralised method of exchanging Bitcoin. This differs from the current method of how we perform financial transactions, as there is a central authority that has to keep track of it, whether it is banks or governments. With Bitcoin, all transactions were stored on this blockchain, which had no central authority.
Instead, it is run by volunteers. But how is this secure if it is all a bunch of different volunteers? Well, it works as there are a lot of people keeping track of the same thing. If 12 people anonymously check a transaction, and three of them were inaccurate, these would get cancelled out, as there are 8 more people who have checked the same transaction, who all got the same values. While the actual system is a little more complicated, these are the basics of how the system functions, and up to this point, this system has been foolproof.
So the blockchain is the technology that powers all the cryptocurrencies operating right now including Bitcoin and Ethereum. Cryptocurrencies are fungible tokens so there is no distinct difference between one Bitcoin and another; just like two 100 Rs notes - they have the same value. Meanwhile, non-fungible tokens are entirely unique. They are still registered on the blockchain like cryptocurrencies, but they are not mutually interchangeable. There are multiple types of NFTs out there.
Recently lots of news has been covering NFT’s like Digital Art. It is essentially proof of ownership of a certain piece of digital art, as it is registered on a blockchain to certify authenticity and ownership. While other people can certainly take screenshots of it and still have a copy, just like one could print out another Mona Lisa, it will never be the original and this decentralised technology has allowed us to properly claim ownership of digital properties.
Now we come to Blockchain Domains. However, before that we should talk about how domain names work on the current internet. So all computers connected to the internet have an IP address. These unique addresses allow individual devices to be identified on networks. However, IP addresses are usually pretty unmemorable and inconvenient. For example, Google’s IP address is 220.127.116.11. So if you ever wanted to Google anything you’d have to type that into the search bar. Thus, we came up with Domain names. Your browser automatically figures that google.com is hosted at the relevant IP address and takes you to that address.
In order for that to happen, domain names need to be registered in the Domain Name System (DNS). There are DNS servers all over the world and they help browsers resolve domain names to IP addresses. The DNS network is administered by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Up until recently, ICANN and DNS were the only methods to obtain a working domain name. However, now, with blockchain technology, a blockchain domain system allows domain owners to control their domains using private keys. Unlike traditional domain names, no oversight organisation oversees them.
This is especially important for things like freedom of speech and censorship, as since DNS is controlled by ICANN, it is possible for ICANN to censor individuals or cooperate with authorities to do the same thing. However, blockchain domain names are permanently etched into a public registry. They cannot be purged, modified, or censored by any third parties.
While previously, blockchain domains required special software to access, it is now becoming easier and easier. Users of popular browsers like Chrome or Firefox can now resolve blockchain domains directly through their browser with one small DNS change, which is now accessible thanks to certain extensions.
These domain names can also connect you to your own cryptocurrency wallets. So you can ask for payments via ‘yourname.crypto’ rather than “kjafndkjnfakjdsb0[83u4qdknasfajsnd” which makes the entire process a lot simpler. So these domains are essentially non-fungible tokens, which essentially means that once you buy the site, it is yours forever (unless you decide to rent it out of course).
The transaction will be recorded on the blockchain which is verification that the domain belongs to you and only you. Even if for some reason Unstoppable Domains were to go defunct, the domain address would still be up and running as they would remain in your personal cryptocurrency wallet. It would just be a little less convenient to manage your domain addresses.
Nevertheless, it is still very early to be considering this idea as something that is sure to take off, as they already have their fair share of competitors. However, it does seem that this is something that we are heading towards in terms of the future of the internet. This is also because as cryptocurrency continues to gain popularity, there will be a new issue dealing with the various types of wallets, for which Unstoppable Domains already have a solution. The issue with having multiple types of cryptocurrency is that all your money will be in different places as there are different wallets for each cryptocurrency.
It will be hard to remember all of these different log-ins and passwords, which is why Unstoppable Domains is working on integrating all of these different types of wallets under your NFT domain. In theory, if someone were to send you Bitcoin to your NFT domain, it would automatically sort it into the relevant Bitcoin wallet. While this is a feature that the company claims to have, it is unclear whether this works in practice. Furthermore, with more and more cryptocurrencies popping up every week, Unstoppable Domains will have to work on integrating as many cryptocurrencies as possible in order to remain relevant.
Ethereum Name Service is a very similar service that is also working on the same thing. Unstoppable Domains simply have a leg up on them as they are working a lot harder to promote their services, spending quite a lot of money on marketing and advertising. Thus, while there is a lot of interesting developments happening in the decentralised internet realm, it will still take more work for this to be adopted by the masses. Nevertheless, keeping an eye on these companies and ones similar to them will probably be in your best interest, as they might end up being quite prominent in our financial futures.