KENIC and Safaricom Bully a Domain Registrar Into Disabling a Domain

Posted In Web - By Tech Mtaa On Wednesday, May 25th, 2011 With 23 Comments

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.

About - Blogger,Web 2.0 and Social Media Addict, Web 2.0 user, All around advocate of all things Tech. Current affairs is my Food.

  • Larrycarlkeya

    hahahahahah…..i have also noticed that safaricom has already bought safaricon.com/org/info

  • Mdkarugu

    If the critics are genuine not just player hating, then I’ll advise Safaricom to hear them out. As Gates says “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning”. Rather if its all player hating then Safaricom is justified to pull it down!

  • @indicati

    ‘Player hating’ as my fellow commentor put it is relative and open to anyone’s interpretation.
    That said, i do not know what the content on the site was but Safaricom ONLY has a right to object to content not to someones right to own a domain. Like the author alluded to the only way safcom should have been able to accomplish this is by due process( police report, court order etc.)
    I agree however with @mdkarugu if the complaints are valid safcom should use this as to engage and learn.
    I think tech mtaa should point @bobcollymore to this post for comment and clarity.
    Also could you post a copy of the safcom letter? Asante for the article, good stuff!

  • Kenfish

    When I discovered this domain in the wild, I thought its such a horrible idea I notified Safaricom immediately. Its not good when you copy a competitors colors, themes, name (ati Safaricon, who notices its a CON at the end? Nkt!) and even logo and claim you are complaining against poor service provision by mobile companies. This is utter stupidity and as Kenyans, we should be ashamed. We want quick money where we have not sowed, can’t we legitimately earn our money? Airtel will try all it can, but they will never make it in Kenya, not now, not ever – as long as they continue linking Safaricom to every stupid thing. Airtel have one of the most horrible customer care that won’t solve even a simple query – they promise “within 24 hrs” something they will never resolve. Nowadays, they are so congested, reaching customercare even past 12 Am is a nightmare. I know they are getting cheap callers, but why can’t they be civil? Do they have to drag Safaricom everyone screaming like little brats to anyone that cares to listen. And you Robert, you are the last to defend this Airtel people, they deserve this and something else – a court hearing.

    • LOL. Do you know the guy?

    • Now who has mentioned Airtel? You are revealing your own personal biases. So you felt the need for reporting this like a mtoi “Haiya makanjo – I must tell on you!”

      When one company has 80% market share, it is only logical that they would have a lions share of complaints and criticism – which is all in the spirit of competition and capitalism. When you add the fact that their name can easily be made into a funny version (eg Safaricon, Sufferingcom etc), it make sense that the site chose to focus on Safaricom to highlight complaints. 

    • Insani

       Perhaps this will enlighten you.

       http://news.cnet.com/2100-1023-244924.html

      As you can see; this is a legitimate and recognised form of expression in many countries. The people who created this site are not associated with any of Safaricom’s competitors. They are just normal people expressing their dissatisfaction with a service in a 21st Century way. The fair use issues, particularly with regard to copyright and trademark, are emerging areas of law that should be adjudicated in the HIgh Court.

      Safaricom is wrong to pursue back-channel solutions. We have Trademark and Copyright statutes in Kenya; if Safaricom feels that a law has been broken or that there has been misuse of its intellectual property then it should go to Court. This draconian resorting to extra-judicial solutions ( and I am being polite here) is a throwback to the dark days of Kenya’s history.

  • whats wrong with creating an avenue to air bad feelings on a client’s services?.. safaricom should  have even offered to pay for the domain to keep it up to receive clients feedback and this time negative feedback…..am sure they need this to better their services!

  • KenyanPoet

    Why can’t the guy who registered the site with a .co.ke domain just purchase a .com via the net n we see how Safcom tries bullying Paypal or Mastercard visa and other international domain hosts/registrars into closing that one!

  • Joe Wanjohi

    “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…?”
    The owner of the domain should register it internationally using the .com extension. These international players are not subject to local scrutiny and these so called big players will just sulk in their boardrooms as kenyans exercise constitutional right to free expression…

  • Emasaa80

    Really really Kenic. The guy should immeadiately buy safaricomsucks.com and report Kenic to ICANN. They will surely lose their license.

    I always thought buying co.ke under kenic was a con game and now I’m 100% sure.

  • Just saw the link to your story. To set the record straight, Mambo Microsystems DID NOT try in any way to contact us. They simply put up a ticket on their . They claimed

    • Kenfish

      So you admit this stupidity? Why didn’t you use Yu or Airtels website themes, logos, buildings and staff? You sound more stupid than the mouse that feeds on my grain thinking they are safe. If you ran short of ideas, ask Robert akusambazie yake, he’s more decent and straight on point!

      • helenlangat

        BECAUSE SAFARICOM NOT yu or airtel SUCKS. And you, my friend, should get a life instead of issuing nonesense remarks. Freedom of speech existed, last time i checked. 

      • helenlangat

        BECAUSE SAFARICOM NOT yu or airtel SUCKS. And you, my friend, should get a life instead of issuing nonesense remarks. Freedom of speech existed, last time i checked. 

  • “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?”

    You have hit the nail on the head. This is anti-competitive *bullying*, plain and simple. If Safaricom had any legitimate claim, they should file a complaint and a judge would rule either way, based on laws and regulations, not intimidation. Tactics like this prove why such a site is needed in the first place! Disgusting. I agree, please go ahead and register a .com domain. 

  • Kenfish

    @wanjohi; paypal is a legitimate registered company, so do the phony companies that slander it. This Safaricon is just a domain, utaishtaki wapi? Just ask that they be deregistered. If the owners as they claim cannot be reached even on the listed numbers, just deregister! 
    Two, I would expect that in a free market where people are being enticed to HAMA with all niceties on the other side, kama umechoka TOKA, the network will become clearer for those that remain and are patient. Ni watu kama nyinyi mnaharibu a good network. Go to the other service providers and see whether you will survive there a day. You’ll be spammed daily with “offers” that barely last 24hrs. I hate it that Kenyans like free things, our call rates are the cheapest in Africa, while our expenses are amongst the highest in the world, higher than New York and London. Nairobi is just too much. How do we expect these companies to make it and repay the loans they’ve taken? Do you know Safaricom expands their network by loans? Nkt! What has Airtel achieved since laying a 2G network in 2001? Can the Airtel network of 4 million users sustain a load Safaricom carries at almost 20 million lines? Lets be realistic and grow up, stop complaining and help in nation building. Let me repeat, food is more important that airtime, I can do without airtime, I can’t do without food. Lets put our energy in making sure we have basic necessities before complaining about luxuries. My 100 cents.
    @ca4a18d2f5b3ef180ab1cabeaa59a01f:disqus , you sound wiser than your age. Are the copy artists in bashing bad telcom companies justified in using everything Safaricom, including the beautiful “Safis”, corporate website, logo and even the “Safaricom Centre”? Ni upumbavu tu. Since they are not a legal entity ya kupeleka korti, just pull them down. You deserve this!

  • Kenfish

    @wanjohi; paypal is a legitimate registered company, so do the phony companies that slander it. This Safaricon is just a domain, utaishtaki wapi? Just ask that they be deregistered. If the owners as they claim cannot be reached even on the listed numbers, just deregister! 
    Two, I would expect that in a free market where people are being enticed to HAMA with all niceties on the other side, kama umechoka TOKA, the network will become clearer for those that remain and are patient. Ni watu kama nyinyi mnaharibu a good network. Go to the other service providers and see whether you will survive there a day. You’ll be spammed daily with “offers” that barely last 24hrs. I hate it that Kenyans like free things, our call rates are the cheapest in Africa, while our expenses are amongst the highest in the world, higher than New York and London. Nairobi is just too much. How do we expect these companies to make it and repay the loans they’ve taken? Do you know Safaricom expands their network by loans? Nkt! What has Airtel achieved since laying a 2G network in 2001? Can the Airtel network of 4 million users sustain a load Safaricom carries at almost 20 million lines? Lets be realistic and grow up, stop complaining and help in nation building. Let me repeat, food is more important that airtime, I can do without airtime, I can’t do without food. Lets put our energy in making sure we have basic necessities before complaining about luxuries. My 100 cents.
    @ca4a18d2f5b3ef180ab1cabeaa59a01f:disqus , you sound wiser than your age. Are the copy artists in bashing bad telcom companies justified in using everything Safaricom, including the beautiful “Safis”, corporate website, logo and even the “Safaricom Centre”? Ni upumbavu tu. Since they are not a legal entity ya kupeleka korti, just pull them down. You deserve this!

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  • Hello

    Good One

    Thanks

  • Njoki

    if they bought safaricon.com/info/org then register another one with a different twist in spelling