Earlier today, a Kenyan registered website www.isUhuruInKenya.co.ke was brought down by Kenya’s Top Level domain custodian KENIC. The website which was created last week on Friday 4th December, was deleted today at 6am in the morning in what the Kenya Monitor team has deduced to be pressure from the government following its popularity as Kenyans Online continue to build pressure on the current government to account for the president’s numerous travels abroad.
The simply designed website just gave a “YES” or “NO” response on whether the President was in the country.
Just confirmed that government shut down https://t.co/df4aDUrXZH . The government of Kenya has told me to go pick a letter. #UhuruInKenya
— Meruem (@kipropesque) December 7, 2015
So https://t.co/l73OAwaxI7 domain been deleted or rather on serverHold , meaning domain deleted for financial, legal or technical reasons.. — Kachwanya (@kachwanya) December 7, 2015
The Hashtag #IsUhuruinKenya quickly garnered interest by Kenyans and soon by Kenya’s news outlets over the past weekend when it emerged that Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta had flown direct to South Africa from the global Climate talks that were happening in Paris earlier in the week. This has made many Kenyans question how beneficial all the trips the President has been making since the beginning of his term as President. The president has so far been on 43 official visits compared to his predecessor, Kenya’s former president Mwai Kibaki who in his 10 year term only made 33 trips in total.
@kachwanya reason I don’t fully trust .co.ke domains. If you annoy some corrupt guy with influence…boom!
— Nguru (@njooro) December 7, 2015
Kenic’s shut down of a .co.ke domain comes barely months after they launched a month long campaign in a bid to boost the uptake of the top Kenyan level domain. The campaign slogan was “Najivunia Kuwa .ke” and it showed Kenyans from all walks of life proclaiming their patriotism by registering .co.ke domains for their businesses. The move this morning by Kenic, has been viewed by Kenyan bloggers and internet users as an infringement of basic internet freedoms of free speech & free expression as the website posed no risk to National Security. As many Kenyans on twitter opined, it was simply a comical website that sought to entertain with the twitter handle sharing hillarious tweets speculating on the numerous trips by the president.
Well played GOK, well played. But it was just a joke. Please don’t send Recce squad . — Meruem (@kipropesque) December 7, 2015
If you are a Kenyan Blogger or activist, get a .co.ke domain at your own risk. @KenicTLD will bring you down due to pressure! #ifreeKe
— Arts & Culture in KE (@Kenyanpoet) December 7, 2015
The #IsUhuruInKenya hashtag continued to trend for the better part of Monday 7th morning even as the government’s online machinery was mobilised to counter the narrative from the hashtag by coming up with #UhuruTripsGoodies which attempted to justify the many trips by the president. A renown Telecomms analysis and policy advisor Tom Makau was among those who criticized Kenic for bowing to pressure to de-register the website.
So @KenicTLD has again proven why local hosting and KE ccTLD domains are a waste of time. Deregistering a domain coz powers-that-be said so? — Tom Makau (@tommakau) December 7, 2015
Blogger’s Association of Kenya Chairman Kennedy Kachwanya also shared his sentiments and terming Kenic’s move as ill advised and would have dire consequences in regaining the confidence of Kenyan online content creators.
Deleting domain due to pressure from above is not good for Kenic and their effort to encourage people to register .co.ke domains
— Kachwanya (@kachwanya) December 7, 2015
For Kenic..the guys who registered that domain, would probably prefer .com domain in future,one that can’t be influenced by the power to be — Kachwanya (@kachwanya) December 7, 2015
This is not the first time that Kenic is bowing to pressure to de-register a domain. In September 4th 2011, they de-registered safaricon.co.ke.