The Download: cybercriminals’ Pacific paradise, and the carbon offset crash

The Download: cybercriminals’ Pacific paradise, and the carbon offset crash

Tokelau, a string of three isolated atolls strung out across the Pacific, is so remote that it was the last place on Earth to be connected to the telephone—only in 1997. Just three years later, the islands received a fax with an unlikely business proposal that would change everything.

It was from an early internet entrepreneur from Amsterdam, named Joost Zuurbier. He wanted to manage Tokelau’s country-code top-level domain, or ccTLD—the short string of characters that is tacked onto the end of a URL—in exchange for money.

In the succeeding years, tiny Tokelau became an unlikely internet giant—but not in the way it may have hoped. Until recently, its .tk domain had more users than any other country’s: a staggering 25 million—but the vast majority were spammers, phishers, and cybercriminals.

Now the territory is desperately trying to clean up .tk. Its international standing, and even its sovereignty, may depend on it. Read the full story.

—Jacob Judah

The growing signs of trouble for global carbon markets

There are growing signs of trouble for the multibillion-dollar global carbon market, as investigative stories and studies continue to erode the credibility of the business world’s go-to tool for cleaning up climate emissions.

The promise of offsets is that companies or individuals can balance out their greenhouse-gas pollution by paying other parties to prevent emissions or remove carbon dioxide from the air. But the evidence is mounting that, rather than producing much-needed climate progress, these schemes are mostly a giant waste of money. Read the full story.

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