The government of Gabon has decided to suspend the me.ga domain that Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom intended to use for a new file sharing and storage service called Mega.
Earlier this year, Dotcom, a German born Internet entrepreneur who's currently living in New Zealand, announced plans to launch a new service that will be "bigger, better and faster" than Megaupload. The service is expected to allow users to store their files only in encrypted form, which could shift liability for the hosted content away from the service provider.
Megaupload was shut down on Jan. 19 by the United States Department of Justice. Dotcom, along with six other individuals, was indicted by a grand jury in a U.S. federal court on criminal copyright infringement charges in connection to the service's operation.
Last Thursday, the Megaupload founder unveiled the name of his upcoming file-sharing service -- Mega -- and the domain name that it will use -- me.ga. However, it seems that the Gabonese government doesn't want to allow such a service to operate within the .ga domain namespace.
Gabon's Communication Minister, Blaise Louembe, ordered his departments to block the me.ga website in order to protect intellectual property rights, the BBC reported Wednesday. "Gabon cannot serve as a platform for committing acts aimed at violating copyrights, nor be used by unscrupulous people," Louembe said.
Officials from Gabon's Ministry of Digital Economy, Communication and Post couldn't be reached for comment at the phone number listed at the ministry's website.
The .ga ccTLD (country code top-level domain) is administered by Gabon Telecom, Gabon's main telecommunications operator. However, there are plans to hand over the domain's administration to the country's National Agency for Digital Infrastructure and Frequencies.
The agency did not return an emailed request for comment sent Wednesday.
The Gabon government's decision shows the reach of the U.S. and that of French entertainment and telecommunication group Vivendi, Dotcom said Wednesday on Twitter.
Vivendi owns both Universal Music Group and Maroc Telecom, which has a majority stake in Gabon Telecom.
"Don't worry," Dotcom said. "We have an alternative domain. This just demonstrates the bad faith witch hunt the US government is on."
Dotcom is currently living in his mansion outside Auckland in New Zealand and is awaiting a ruling that could see him extradited to the U.S. in order to face the copyright infringement charges there.
The me.ga domain could not be reached at the time this news report was written. However, for some hours earlier on Tuesday the domain redirected to a Twitter account operated by a group called Omega.
It's not clear how the group, which owns the domain ome.ga domain, also gained control of the me.ga one.
"To our gabonese friends: have no fear, me.ga is in safe hands, the megaman @KimDotcom has no control over the me.ga domain name. We do," the group wrote on Twitter.
In later messages, the group offered to sell the me.ga domain to Dotcom's enemies "for millions of dollars or bitcoins" or to Universal Music Group, saying that 10 percent of the proceeds will go to the Gabon Youth Forum ( Forum des Jeunes du Gabon).