Thousands of Brexit-related websites taken offline by EU – including Leave.eu

Around 48,000 domain names revoked

Adam Forrest
Wednesday 05 January 2022 15:22
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Tens of thousands of Brexit-related websites have been taken offline by the EU agency in charge of domain names – including the Leave.eu site set up by the pro-Brexit campaign group.

Owners of .eu websites based in the UK were warned they needed to prove eligibility for an EU domain name after the Brexit process or they would be officially “revoked” this week.

The EURid agency said around 48,000 domain names had been revoked and would now be made available for registration on a “first come, first serve” basis.

“As previously communicated, all Brexit-related domain names, which were moved to the “withdrawn” status on 1 July 2021, will be revoked and released on 3 January 2022,” said a spokesperson.

EURid added: “About 48,000 domain names will become available for general registration on first come, first serve basis.”

The Leave.EU group – founded by businessman Arron Banks – had moved its website registration from the UK to the Republic of Ireland at the end of 2020 in a bid to get round a rule stating that .eu addresses can only be used by individuals and organisations based in the EU.

But an investigation by EURid led to the domain name being given “withdrawn” status, with the EU agency citing the failure to respond to data verification requests.

The website has now been revoked – with visitors to the web page greeted with the error message: “This site can’t be reached.”

However, the Leave.EU group now has a website using a UK domain name, leaveeuofficial.com.

Neale Richmond, an Irish member of parliament, wrote to the Republic of Ireland’s communications regulator last year to complain about the attempt to register in Waterford.

“It is utterly ridiculous to think that Leave.EU could brass-plate an address in Waterford to maintain their domain name – they wanted to leave the EU, they have, that means they leave their domain too,” he said.

Anyone who has EU residency or citizenship, or any organisation established in the bloc, will be able to reregister the .eu domain names which have been revoked.

The Leave.EU group has been contacted for comment.

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