UnStoppable Domains – An Analysis

Anlysis by Technology Ethicist “American Scream” – 21.06.02

The latest buzz in the crypto world is a new service called, “Unstoppable Domains”.

The premise is:

Replace cryptocurrency addresses with a human readable name

To send cryptocurrency, all you need to know is the recipient’s blockchain domain

Send bitcoin, ethereum, and any other cryptocurrency with just one domain

No more worrying about sending to the wrong address

No Renewal Fees

Blockchain domains are owned not rented. Buy the domain with a one time registration fee and never worry about renewals again.

The domain is stored in your wallet, just like a cryptocurrency. No one can move it around other than you

Point your domain to content on a decentralized storage network

Sounds intriguing right? No more worrying!

But how does such a “de-centralized” system actually work?

It uses centralization.

The first thing you’ll notice that might seem odd, is that Unstoppable Domains sells .crypto domains, but their web site is a .com. Why is that? Because .com domains work by default on the Internet. What they’re selling: .crypto, doesn’t.

The only way a domain address will work is if a centralized piece of software intercepts those .crypto addresses and re-directs it to their particular site or network.

Domains on the Internet proper are also a combination of centralization + de-centralization. The nameservers are in different locations on different areas of the Internet so that if one backbone goes down, the other servers can respond to requests. The whole Internet is basically built like this. But, the content on the top level DNS (aka the “root servers”) is determined by a central authority that manages who owns what domain names (ICANN – the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names & Numbers).

Unstoppable Domains appears to pretend they’re somehow different and more “de-centralized” but in reality, their network design is very similar, with the addition of some extra components that effectively make the process slower and more complicated, and exclusively under their, centralized control.

How does their .crypto domain work if it’s separate from the main DNS system everybody uses?

It doesn’t.

Try it yourself: https://unstoppabledomains.crypto – unless you’ve modded your computer (and are using a compatible DNS), .crypto domains won’t work.

In order for .crypto domains to work you have to install special software. This software can be either a plugin to an existing browser, or it can be a stand-alone browser they’re advertising (called “Brave”).

“Brave” is a great name for this concept, because in the world of immutable, irreversible monetary transactions with random anonymous people anywhere in the world based on a “trustless network”, you have to be “brave” to install a third party software program with full access to your computer and browser activity.

So much for security. Trust this new company that the software required to run their new “de-centralized” system, isn’t full of vulnerabilities, back doors, or is an outright scam itself. You just don’t know.

With this knowledge of technically how the system works, let’s unpack their marketing claims:

No more worrying about sending to the wrong address

* Provided you send to the right address

All UD (I’m going to use UD instead of “Unstoppable Domains” from now on) does is translate a .crypto address to some other address. You can still send money to the wrong address if it’s the wrong .crypto instead of a normal wallet address.

So maybe it makes it less likely because .crypto addresses would be simpler? Perhaps, but it also means you’re putting your trust in a “middleman” who is facilitating an irreversible crypto transaction. If things go wrong, the first thing crypto people will say is, “Well, there’s your problem, you used a middleman, .crypto instead of sending directly from wallet-to-wallet.”

However, this “convenience” of using .crypto instead of a longer sequence of numbers comes at a high price: You have to install yet another piece of third party software on your computer that may be a privacy or security risk, may have a back door, may have vulnerabilities, or worse. You just don’t know. There’s that “trust” again. Instead of trusting the system that’s been working reliably now for 30+ years, let’s put all our faith in this new company with no track record. No problem. It’s only money and your privacy and security.

No Renewal Fees

Blockchain domains are owned not rented. Buy the domain with a one time registration fee and never worry about renewals again.

This is a very bold, dare I say, even “Brave” statement. You pay one price and you own the domain “forever.”

Here’s what’s wrong with that. It’s impossible to really make that promise. And as I’m sure we’ll see in a minute when we examine this company’s Terms of Service, it’s bogus.

Ten seconds into the terms (as of 6/2/21) it says:

You agree to pay all charges at the prices then in effect for your purchases and any applicable shipping fees, and you authorize us to charge your chosen payment provider for any such amounts upon placing your order. If your order is subject to recurring charges, then you consent to our charging your payment method on a recurring basis without requiring your prior approval for each recurring charge, until such time as you cancel the applicable order. We reserve the right to correct any errors or mistakes in pricing, even if we have already requested or received payment.

So apparently this “pay one price” thing is hardly part of UD’s business model. They have every intention of having a subscription service.

You agree to provide current, complete, and accurate purchase and account information for all purchases made via the Site. You further agree to promptly update account and payment information, including email address, payment method, and payment card expiration date, so that we can complete your transactions and contact you as needed. Sales tax will be added to the price of purchases as deemed required by us. We may change prices at any time. All payments shall be in U.S. dollars.

Again, this “pay one fee, get a domain forever” claim seems to be not what their system endeavors to ultimately do.

Added bonus:

All payments shall be in U.S. dollars.

The company promoting crypto requires you to pay in filthy, corrupt, centralized FIAT???

So much for their faith in cryptocurrency, eh?

All payments made with cryptocurrency will be refunded and processed in the equivalent amount of USD that was received

For some things where they may accept payment in crypto (although it conflicts with their earlier claim), they will refund in USD, because they ultimately are only holding USD and not crypto. Yay.. adoption imminent from a company promoting crypto that doesn’t want to deal with crypto!!

So how and why can they offer a domain that lasts forever without renewal fees?

That’s a really good question, and there doesn’t seem to be a reasonable answer to that. They must assume you don’t know how this stuff works, or that all the technology you’re dependent on, is supposed to run forever for just $40. Unfortunately, that’s not very realistic.

The software to manage .crypto will need to be continually updated to be compatible with new OSes, new browsers, new features of the web. Who’s paying for that?

The DNS servers that answer to .crypto domains cost money for resources and bandwith in order to run. This expense is significant. Who’s paying for that?

What typically happens when a company makes an offer of products or services that potentially costs more than they collect?

Sure, there are companies out there who will take a loss in one area that’s subsidized by another, but this might work with Amazon and Whole Foods, but both their business models are solid. I wouldn’t assume UD has the same economic stability.

What I suspect we will find in the Terms of Service is a clause that allows them to weasel out of the “pay one price of $40” claim.

It doesn’t take long to find it either:

We reserve the right to correct any errors or mistakes in pricing, even if we have already requested or received payment.

Of course, there’s also the standard, “We can do whatever the fuck we want” clauses:

Unstoppable Domains reserves the right to refuse, at its sole discretion, to sell a domain name to you for any reason (or to complete such sale once initiated).

But let’s get back to what you’re actually buying with UD:

Once a domain goes live on the blockchain and is transferred to your control (that is, to your crypto-wallet, alterable or transferrable only via a private key you personally hold), it is 100% under your own ownership and custody.

This sounds pretty cool right?

But what are you buying really? Are you actually owning a domain?

In fact, no you’re not. This is basically a scheme very similar to NFTs – be sure to read our article on NFTs: https://old.reddit.com/r/CryptoReality/comments/m24xb3/the_cryptoreality_of_nfts_non_fungible_tokens_you/

You don’t own a .crypto domain. What you are buying is a certain piece of information being stuffed into a blockchain. There is an “authority” that is involved. That’s the authority that creates the software/plugins that are able to read that domain info off the blockchain and do something with it. But without that specific, authoritative, piece of 3rd party software, that blockchain entry you bought, is worthless and does nothing.

This is even worse than NFTs because while NFTs are basically entries in a blockchain that point to something, they at least use the existing Internet DNS system. You don’t need to install special software on your computer to look at the art an NFT points to, but with UD and .crypto, you do. So imagine buying an NFT, but anybody who wants to see it, has to install special software on their computer. That’s how Unstoppable Domains work. It’s even more complicated and convoluted and by default, nobody can use it without installing extra software.

Who knew money of the future was going to be so damned complicated?

Let’s keep digging into their Terms of Service.. there are some things I’ve never seen before. Check this out:


You acknowledge and agree that any questions, comments, suggestions, ideas, feedback, or other information regarding the Site or the Marketplace Offerings (“Submissions”) provided by you to us are non­confidential and shall become our sole property. We shall own exclusive rights, including all intellectual property rights, and shall be entitled to the unrestricted use and dissemination of these Submissions for any lawful purpose, commercial or otherwise, without acknowledgment or compensation to you. You hereby waive all moral rights to any such Submissions, and you hereby warrant that any such Submissions are original with you or that you have the right to submit such Submissions. You agree there shall be no recourse against us for any alleged or actual infringement or misappropriation of any proprietary right in your Submissions.

That’s one of the weirdest waiver or rights I’ve ever seen. They get exclusive rights to anything you tell them? Presumably to what end? Can they sue you for copyright infringement if you make public the text of a conversation with their support?

What are “moral rights?” You have to waive your “moral rights?”

EDIT: I was educated on what “moral rights” are:

Moral rights are rights of creators of copyrighted works generally recognized in civil law jurisdictions and, to a lesser extent, in some common law jurisdictions.

The moral rights include the right of attribution, the right to have a work published anonymously or pseudonymously, and the right to the integrity of the work. The preserving of the integrity of the work allows the author to object to alteration, distortion, or mutilation of the work that is “prejudicial to the author’s honor or reputation”.

This seems to imply that if you waive your “moral rights”, you give up the right to have your testimony taken in context and not misinterpreted or exploited in a way that may be different from your original intent. Lovely.

Ok, let’s get to the meat of the TOS:



That .crypto domain you bought? UD reserves the right to deny your access to any associated use that is within their realm of control, for any reason including no reason at all.

This appears to be a new “feature” of crypto companies. They just don’t want to deal with you and don’t have to explain why. It’s in the terms of service. Great way to do business huh?

Since UD controls the browser and the plugins that make .crypto domains work, the fact that you think you “own” something is an illusion. The utility of any .crypto domain exclusively depends on technology that is constantly maintained by UD. So at any time, they can disable your domain and any associated services. Of course, you will still have that entry in the blockchain. Feel free to look at it and reminisce about the lost functionality arbitrarily taken from you “for no reason at all” and realize, that’s a “feature” of crypto and services like, UnStoppable Domains.

So you say, “Ok, yea, it’s in the terms of service they can fuck me over, but they won’t do that.. it would be horrible for their business.”

I guess no company has ever done that before huh? A bait-and-switch? Telling their customers that something is “unlimited” but then later changing it to “limited and you have to pay extra.” That happens all the time (See: Amazon, Verizon and AT&T).

The fact is, it will cost a lot of ongoing money to maintain this private .crypto array of DNS root servers. Somebody has to pay for that. They will either start charging a subscription, or they’ll go out of business. My guess is the latter, because nobody wants to have to install and maintain more software just to use a rogue TLD.

And just in case you think this is my opinion, they’ve confirmed it in their TOS:


We reserve the right to change, modify, or remove the contents of the Site at any time or for any reason at our sole discretion without notice. However, we have no obligation to update any information on our Site. We also reserve the right to modify or discontinue all or part of the Marketplace Offerings without notice at any time. We will not be liable to you or any third party for any modification, price change, suspension, or discontinuance of the Site or the Marketplace Offerings.

We cannot guarantee the Site and the Marketplace Offerings will be available at all times. We may experience hardware, software, or other problems or need to perform maintenance related to the Site, resulting in interruptions, delays, or errors. We reserve the right to change, revise, update, suspend, discontinue, or otherwise modify the Site or the Marketplace Offerings at any time or for any reason without notice to you. You agree that we have no liability whatsoever for any loss, damage, or inconvenience caused by your inability to access or use the Site or the Marketplace Offerings during any downtime or discontinuance of the Site or the Marketplace Offerings. Nothing in these Terms of Use will be construed to obligate us to maintain and support the Site or the Marketplace Offerings or to supply any corrections, updates, or releases in connection therewith.

So there you go! More “trustless transactions” that depend upon a ton of trust.

So Brave!

OK… So there may be some extra fees. The regular domain system works like this too. Aren’t you being too harsh on this startup?

It is true. If I purchase a real domain name, it costs extra to configure a nameserver to point to a server, as well as hosting and other services. If I want e-mail, it requires extra resources to set up a mailbox and process mail. That is true. (Although Google charges people their privacy and personal info in return for free e-mail services).

So is Unstoppable Domains’ idea really bad? Is it fair to be so critical of their operation and model?

I believe it is perfectly fair and reasonable to call out UD as more of a scheme than a useful service or innovative start-up. And here’s why…

Let’s look at their main claim:

Replace cryptocurrency addresses with a human readable name

To send cryptocurrency, all you need to know is the recipient’s blockchain domain

Send bitcoin, ethereum, and any other cryptocurrency with just one domain

No more worrying about sending to the wrong address

The essence of what they’re selling is a $40 address that makes it easier to send money from one person to another.

Now, if I’m not mistaken, this doesn’t really seem to be a problem the majority of the world is struggling to solve?

Most of us can already easily send money to other people by using a simple address that’s easy to remember (and also is free instead of $40).

I believe, among other things, this innovative service is called, um… PAYPAL, in addition to others.

So basically I already have this ability without having to install some shady browser extension from a company that claims “all moral rights” and can suspend any of their products and services at any time “for no reason.”

On top of that… even if I did send money to the wrong address, if I did so in Paypal, I could get that money back. Paypal’s system is even more consumer friendly, more secure and has more protections against fraud.

What exactly am I getting with Unstoppable Domains that I can’t get elsewhere better and faster? The ability to launder large amounts of money and do business with drug cartels and extortionists? Anything else?

Unstoppable Domains is another classic example of crypto enthusiasts re-inventing the wheel, and not even a completely round wheel. It’s an oblong wheel that really only has use in their odd marketplace, which is slower, more sleazy, less scalable and more dangerous than dealing with regular monetary transactions.

Time and time again, reviewing the “latest tech” from the cryptocurrency world is like reviewing the newest ride at an amusement park for Lepers. Ok, it’s far from a ride the quality you’d see at Disney, but Lepers like it. Disney rides don’t have little compartments to store your excess peeling skin. That’s cool. But stop telling us it’s as good as a ride at Disney.

Ok.. ok, but surely there’s got to be some important people behind this project, right?

Let’s look… the CTO and co-founder is named: Bogdan Gusiev. Anybody heard of him?

Where’s he located? In Ukraine.

What’s this guy been doing prior? Apparently he’s in the e-mail marketing business:

Talkable (formerly Curebit) helps online stores increase revenue through referrals by turning existing customers into marketers. When customers check out from a Talkable-enabled store, they are presented personalized deals that they can gift to their friends by posting to Facebook or forwarding a link. The deals give both the the original customer and their referred friends a rebate on their purchase at this store.

So this guy basically took chain letters, added coupons to them and marketed it as an e-mail/e-commerce service.

It actually makes perfect sense the guy would be into this stuff. And the crypto market is the next evolution of the “gig economy” turning gamblers into marketers for the casino itself.

At least the Talkable model, while being unoriginal, isn’t necessarily pumped by criminal activity. I can’t fault these people being opportunists who just want a piece of the money floating around. It’s a lot of money. But still, is there anything here for the average person who doesn’t need fentanyl or isn’t trying to get rich at greater fools’ expense? That remains to be seen. At the end of the day, Unstoppable domains seems very easily stoppable because this business model appears neither original, nor lucrative after the smoke clears from the first investment round.

The really sad part is, we could probably use a viable alternative to ICANN and how TLDs are managed, but UD isn’t it. It’s just a quick money grab project with no innovative products or services. And like every other crypto project, once you look into the terms of service, there are no promises actually being offered.

What makes the Internet work is because there is a set of centralized rules everybody adheres to. How domains and DNS work is one of these rules. It works very well. It’s not perfect, but Unstoppable Domains doesn’t in any way, offer a service that is better, faster, more secure, more fault tolerant. Unlike the mainstream DNS, Unstoppable Domains doesn’t subsidize the network they depend upon — they simply assume blockchain will be there forever. That remains to be seen. They also assume everybody who wants to use their hacked .crypto extension is willing to install extra software, and that this software will continue to be supported despite no additional recurring income. Good luck with that.