Facebook suing Tokelau Internet alias
Colony’s cyber corruption dealings heading to US court
Tokelau is small and difficult to get to, but the Aotearoa colony has become an Internet giant thanks to a dubious Dutch company that sells its services to dark forces illegally exploiting the cyber world. Just why Tokelau sells its reputation and morality for NZ$140,000 a year, or $87 a year per person, is a puzzle.
Local government owned Telecommunications Tokelau Corporation - Teletok - has never explained its internet operations and its last published annual report was in 2019.
All may be revealed in the United States District Court in San Francisco where global corporate Meta is suing a Dutch crowd called Freenom alleging cybersquatting violations and trademark infringements. In a headline, this is a case where Facebook, owned by Meta, is, in effect, suing Tokelau, a New Zealand colony of 1600 people, 500 kilometres north of Sāmoa.
It seems to have started with a 2003 visit to Tokelau by Dutch carpetbagger Joost Zuurbier who had a small startup company called OpenTLD B.V., doing business as Freenom, a Netherlands corporation.
Tokelau in 2003 had a radio telephone link with Sāmoa and no Internet. All the same, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers had designated ‘country code top level domains’ (ccTLDs) for most places, including Tokelau which was ‘.Tk’ - referred to from now as DotTK. Tuvalu, 1200 km to the west, got the lucrative ‘dot TV’ and Sāmoa, unhelpfully ‘dot ws’ - the ‘w’ for the western Sāmoa no longer used.
Zuurbier’s pitch to the Tokelau grey hairs was that he would pay them a fee and he would then market DotTk to the world. None of the dealing was done in the open; it's not even clear if the New Zealand administration was party to the deal between Zuurbier and Teletok.