Kenyan Country Level domain is still young, only just over 18,000 cTLDs registered, and not even many have been registered. It is surprising what power, tactics and schemes the big players and the rich will use to make sure that a domain they don’t like does not stay active. This is what happened with the SAFARICON.CO.KE domain.

A user, we are still looking for him, registered the domain through Mambo Microsystems. The domain was registered on 15th April and is set to expired on 15th April 2012. Safaricom got wind of the domain and alleged content and within a few days, the domain was taken down. So I sought to find out what transpired.

Speaking to a Mr David Wambua of KENIC, the story is that Safaricom called KENIC complaining about the domain. KENIC insisted that Safaricom writes a letter so that the Registry can have a backup in case issues are raised. Safaricom obliged and sent out a letter to KENIC asking that the domain be taken down because of the contents. While pushing KENIC, Safaricom calls Mambo Microsystems asking for the mode of payment and bank details, if any, of the domain owner. Mambo Microsystems refuses to give client details and so Safaricom goes back to KENIC and exerts more pressure.

Mambo Microsystems gets a call from CEO of KENIC and a Kevin asking that the domain be deregistered immediately or KENIC would have no otherwise but to deregister the registrar, Mambo Microsystems. Mambo in all the pressure, contacts the clients and gives him 24 hours to remove the domain or it would be taken down. 24 hours later and Mambo Microsystems CEO, James Waititu, says that they call the client and he refuses to respond. So Mambo Microsystems took down the domain.

Uses on social media have started asking how a domain registrar can be forced to take down a website just because some big man somewhere doesn’t like it. If ICANN could decide to take down the Paypal Sucks, Google Stinks, Microsoft Frauds and every kind of domain which is used to vent against corporates, what would happen. Will more users be encouraged to take cTLDs with these actions?

When I asked Wambua of KENIC which particular rule or term the client went against. I couldn’t get any. He is not aware whether domain registrars have or avail such conditions to clients. He is not aware if the client signed to respect such terms. And I asked why Safaricom could not get a court or police order against the domain owner instead of issuing threats to a client who consumes Safaricom products and might have valid claims. I know of the operator dirty wars, but why not act legally instead of using underhand means?

When we called the Safaricom Innovation Committee as a gestapo police, we were called names. This is what we meant. I don’t hate Safaricom nor even think that it is evil but there are many things they are doing which I kindly ask that they find better ways of doing. I am a Safaricom client on 0726 03…… and so I use their services. But I expect them to behave better.

But the owners of the domain seems to be currently running a Facebook page. They have pointed that they got a call from PS Information to close the account, which I doubt. We know what Dr Ndemo gets into but not such stuff.

UPDATE: Safaricom has responded to this post and said that it did not “bully anybody or company into disabling a domain. The company says that it raised concern when Safaricom colours, logos, copyrighted and patented materials were used to dirty the name of the company. Safaricom wrote to KENIC producing evidence of the same and even tried to reach the owner of the domain without success.

Safaricom found the idea of the domain positive since it could have served as a place where the company could address any future concerns of clients. The owner of the domain had other agendas and have not responded to requests of contacts. Safaricom says that they can not rule corporate sabotage on this but believe that issues can be amicable solved if all parties are honest.

So if you are the owner of the domain, avail yourself.

What do you think of these actions of KENIC, Safaricom and Mambo? Leave your comment below.