The government of Gabon has thrown a wrench in internet tycoon Kim Dotcom's plans to launch a new version of his Megaupload file-sharing site by suspending his domain name registration in that country, citing intellectual property concerns.
Dotcom had planned to call his new site www.me.ga, using Gabon's .ga top-level domain to complete its memorable URL. But according to a report by AFP, on Tuesday Gabon Communications Minister Blaise Louembe announced that he had instructed his department to suspend Dotcom's site immediately, citing a need to "fight cyber crime effectively."
"Gabon cannot serve as a platform or screen for committing acts aimed at violating copyrights, nor be used by unscrupulous people," the minister reportedly said.
Dotcom first went public with his plans for www.me.ga last week, claiming that the new venture would duck the wrath of US authorities by studiously avoiding any American hosting companies, domains, or internet service providers. No such luck, it seems.
In typical form, upon learning of Louembe's decision Dotcom took to Twitter, claiming that Gabon's action demonstrated "the reach of the US & Vivendi."
Gabon Minister used time machine to analyze legality of the future Mega. Verdict: Cyber crime! Gets 5$ award from the FBI.— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) November 7, 2012
The original version of Megaupload was knocked offline by US prosecutors after a dramatic (and possibly illegal) raid that saw Dotcom briefly jailed and millions of dollars of property confiscated from his New Zealand home.
US officials are still seeking to extradite Dotcom from New Zealand over allegations that Megaupload constituted a massive conspiracy to commit copyright infringement and money laundering. Dotcom has steadfastly denied the charges, and the extradition effort has met with growing resistance from New Zealand officials after aspects of the investigation into Megaupload were found to be unlawful.
As the case lumbers on, Dotcom has mounted an impressive public relations campaign aimed at clearing his name, marked by rapid-fire Twitter posts and even a music video extolling the virtues of Megaupload.
More recently, he has tried to paint himself as a Robin Hood figure, touting a plan to offer free broadband internet access to Kiwis via an undersea cable that would link New Zealand with the US.
Such largesse could also benefit Gabon, which has declared 2013 "the year of the internet." Gabon's government has been working hard to reduce the cost of internet access there, with the aim of seeing a homegrown digital economy emerge by 2016.
But alas, it seems any help from Dotcom is unlikely, given present circumstances. The Mega-man says he already has a backup domain name lined up for his new venture, though he has yet to say what it is or in what country he will try to host it this time. ®
Don't worry. We have an alternative domain. This just demonstrates the bad faith witch hunt the US government is on.— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) November 6, 2012