Brexit is Certain to Cause Chaos For EU Domains and Web Hosting

Fri, 13th December 2019, 18:19

After the UK’s historical landslide election victory by the conservatives, Boris Johnson has been handed "a stonking mandate" to make Brexit happen. And happen it will. Britain will leave the EU by the end of January, 2020. After years of debate and procrastination, for many both ‘in’, and ‘out’ of the EU, there  will now be very little time to ensure legal compliance of their online presence, domain names, and physical location of their data storage.

In recent years there have not only been a number of rulings in the European Union around requirements to address the physical location of data storage, but also around privacy issue of EU citizens, and the legal procedure required to gain access to data by those outside the EU.  While there is little doubt that many UK and European firms have contemplated various scenarios and maybe even drafted what if plan, putting them into play always raises the possibility of service disruptions. It may also raise questions for some European clients of UK based web hosting firms whether migrating to an EU point of presence offers the same legal protections as working with an EU based firm.

For many there may be larger issues around domain name extensions. While there is always the possibility of some form of deal prior to the January deadline, should the UK leave the EU without a deal, or a deal that does not include a provision for dot EU domains ownership by UK entities, it’s highly likely that the EU will at some point revoke any eu domain extension unless you can provide an EU address.  This could have long term effects and consequences for web presences created using a soon to be retired domain.

The EU Domain Registry released a statement prior to an earlier Brexit deadline which provides some guidance on the timeframe. The rules are pretty cut and dried stating the following persons are eligible to register .eu domain names:

(i) a Union citizen, independently of their place of residence;

(ii) a natural person who is not a Union citizen and who is a resident of a Member State;

(iii) an undertaking that is established in the Union; or

(iv) an organisation that is established in the Union, without prejudice to the application of national law.

In that same statement EURid also provided some indication of the timeframe before enforcement of this and other provision would begin stating:

that after Jan 1 2020 UK citizens that are resident in the EU27 will remain eligible on the basis of the residence country code that they have provided. UK citizens living outside of the EU, on the other hand, will no longer be eligible.

Surely in three months they can get er done… or maybe not!

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