Do you revere your online anonymity above all else? There are some strategies to optimize anonymity—and in many cases it involves using virtual private servers/VPS hosting in tandem with internationalization. Let’s begin with the basics: Your email and website might not be as anonymous as you think. If you use a US-based domain such as .com, .org, .us, and the like, your domain may be under US law regardless of where you’re based. The government may be able to confiscate your data, so it might be wise to switch to something like .in, .ca, or another foreign-based domain address.
However, that alone isn’t going to keep you protected. Where your host is located also makes a huge difference. You’ll have to make a choice: do you want the convenience of having a local web host, or do you want more anonymity with a foreign host? Going foreign may be able to secure more anonymity for you, but watch out. It can also lead to poorer customer service and slower speeds. There are pros and cons to all web hosts, so think carefully and decide what’s most important to you.
First Amendment Rights
What freedom of speech laws do you enjoy? That may be dictated based on your web host and domain name. While the US may be known for having so-called freedom of speech, the country is actually way behind some others like Jamaica. Never assume that the US is the most progressive in this realm, because it’s probably not. Plus, an old 1990s court decision that states your server location dictates where you’re taxed is still legal. This can cause all types of trouble and confusion if you’re not careful.
Your offshore business might still be US-taxable even if you’re genuinely an ex-pat. Have a US web host even though your business is overseas? That can lead to gray areas when it comes to taxation. For your best bet—if anonymity is your goal—choose VPS hosting from a country that’s progressive compared to the US in regard to freedom of speech. Make sure the web host is actually based in, and has servers in, that country. This often makes it a little easier to find VPS hosting, since it’s a more progressive form of hosting overall. The majority of hosts in the US still only offer dedicated or basic plans. However, if you can find a boutique agency that offers VPS hosting at a reasonable price, it’s worth checking out.
Does Anonymity Really Matter?
You likely already know if anonymity is a key factor for you. In many cases, customer service, speed, and scalability are more important for business owners, but the final call is completely up to you. Ask yourself why you need or want such anonymity, and ensure the reasons are legally sound. For the most part, the degree of anonymity afforded by US hosts and domains is more than reasonable enough for the average business owner.
However, if you’re an ex-pat and want to keep your taxes as far away from US ownership as possible, off-shore hosting makes sense. No matter which host you choose, make sure your comparison shopping is top notch. Otherwise, regardless of where your host is, you might find yourself in a pickle.