The Digital Trap in your Offshore Plan

I have attended a number of events focusing on internationalization where I have met hundreds of people who were planting various flags for banking, investing, residency, and others all over the world.

Usually the issue of digital diversification at these events is something that is missing. A critical component of which is moving your email offshore to obtain significantly more privacy and protection.

It is concerning to see people contacting their offshore lawyers, real estate agents, investment professionals, bankers, etc. using their Gmail, Yahoo, or Hotmail account. Even more concerning is how many offshore professionals were using these free US email accounts themselves.

I have written before that the price you pay for all “free” online services is the loss of your privacy. In short, it is concerning to see individuals working to gain more privacy by moving assets, investments, and businesses abroad, yet are subverting themselves by communicating through services which do not respect the privacy of their users.

Discussions that I have had with various offshore service providers have been revealing – especially those providers who are using US-based email services but who are located in offshore jurisdictions whose own governments are not as intrusive as those in the US, UK, or EU can be.

When I told these providers that US law enforcement authorities could access any emails over 6 months old without a warrant in any US-based email account, they were, by and large, surprised. Many discussions took place on how to help protect themselves and their customers by moving their email communications offshore, just like their customers are doing for their banking, investments, and other services.

One offshore service provider (OSP) I worked with earlier this year nearly lost a major client because they hosted their email in the US. Their future client discovered that the OSP was hosting their email using Google Apps for Business. The OSP had their own domain name, but all of their emails were stored by Google. The client refused to work with the OSP until they provided an offshore email option. I was able to provide both the OSP and their client an email solution that allowed them to move forward.

The first thing you should move offshore is your email

When you begin working on your offshore plan, digital diversification and obtaining an email account in a different jurisdiction than your own should be a priority. We have previously discussed the reasons to diversify your email overseas, and how to select an offshore email provider. Having an offshore email account will keep your communications about your offshore plan offshore as well. Do you really want all those emails about your trust planning or your banking setup stored with Google, Yahoo, or Microsoft forever?

If you have an existing domain name for your email, the email provider should be able to migrate your domain along with your email to an offshore email service.

If you are doing business with an offshore service provider who continues to use an US-based email account ask them to provide alternative communication methods, and to remove any communications they have had with you via one of these accounts. Many of them are not electronic privacy experts, or have not been exposed to these issues before.

The Next Steps

If you are communicating with your various offshore contacts and providers using a free US-based email account (whether from one of the web-based offerings or with your ISP), understand that you are sacrificing your privacy. In order to preserve your privacy get an offshore email account for these communications. Move all the emails from your free account to the new account. Anything you cannot move, delete, including sent emails.

You can find more information regarding offshoring your email and digital diversification in the International ManGuides and Country Reports’ section. You must be an IM member and logged in to access that section. Join Doug Casey’s IM Network here for free.

About the Author: Kyle Gonzales is a self-taught, self-made business professional with 14 years of experience in the IT industry. Over that time, he has assumed leadership positions ranging from corporate networking to technical sales. He launched JumpShip Services, a firm that offers "multi-flagged" and offshore internet solutions that offer enhanced security, privacy and peace of mind for your digital communications

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