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.africa gTLD applicant caught using fake identity

Kevin Murphy, December 4, 2012, 18:20:02 (UTC), Domain Policy

DotConnectAfrica executive director Sophia Bekele has been rumbled using a fake identity to post to an ICANN mailing list, but says she did so due to “hatred” from other posters.
Members of the AfrICANN list discovered this week that a poster going by the name of “Lerato Ma” had Bekele’s name in her email headers.
Over several months, “Ma” had frequently defended DCA, which is locked in a bitter contention battle over the .africa gTLD.
Bekele told DI that she had been forced to used a pseudonym due to the hostility she’s experienced on the list when posting under her real name.
“The open display of hatred, aggression and personal anonymity [sic] towards my person and DCA is compelling me to post under Lerato Ma,” she said in an email.
“There is nothing to hide, it is just to protect myself from all that aggression,” she added. “It is not an important issues for us.”
AfrICANN is not an official ICANN mailing list, nor does it have any power. It’s hosted by Afrinic, the African IP address registry, and is used to discuss issues related to ICANN in Africa.
Unlike most ICANN mailing lists, which operate under a code of acceptable behavior, it has a fairly rough-and-tumble tone to it. Bekele and DCA are sometimes mocked by name.

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Comments (7)

  1. As a company providing services to registry operators world-wide including Africa I am sure we would roundly castigated if we set up a ‘sock puppet’ (as I believe the phrase goes) to engage in boosterism for our own company and/or applications we were engaged in.
    While the ICANN Expected Behaviour Standards are a noble if slighly woolly document, surely they document expected standard of behaviour by Applicants to ICANN for new gTLDs in how they approach their application, and are not merely limited to engagement on ICANN-sponsored mailing lists?
    If that it is not the case, the said expected behaviour standards are a mere figleaf and not worth the time taken to type them out.
    If that IS the case, it would appear this particular Applicant has some explaining to do.

    • Gideon says:

      Hi Mr. Nigel
      Your interest in the African ccTLD name space and support for DCA’s opponents is well known in the list. I have also seen you many times castigating DCA.
      This is not a sock puppet case as you want it to be, one can read the content of all the messages on the list and it well defends DCA’s position from its opponents. There is no promotional statements. DCA has already demonstrated its institutional capacity to promote its cause and raise its profile does not need a one person email ID on an unknown list to meet its promotional goals. Please apply logic.
      There is nothing further to explain in the past of Ms Bekele. Whatever comments she has to say has been covered by DI and I see no explanation is required. It has been fully explained.

      • I have no financial or business interest in .AFRICA or in DCA’s competitor. And, as is not a secret, for entirely personal reasons, I support UniForum’s bid.
        Firstly, because I like the crew involved, and secondly because I think they are best equipped to do the job.
        But that’s perfectly reasonable and entirely proper and permissible.
        (a) not in judgment on the merits of the application and
        (b) I’m not pretending to be someone else to obscure my personal connection.

  2. Fake Identity says:

    It is simply a case of!

  3. says:

    Of COURSE it is no big deal FOR HER. But for the rest of the applicant community. For example: God knows how many public comments have been made by HER instead of third parties.
    If you can’t go by your own name and identity then stand up to it or simply do not go or at least make it obvious that you are a fake identity like I do here! Every lousy rule breaker has a perfect explanation for their doing. Always. She is simply a sneaky character and she wouldn’t stop short of ANYTHING.
    Did I said ANYTHING?
    Sophiagate……, Pritzgate,……any possible link?
    Greetings from the mean little SockPuppet

  4. Anonymus Identity says:

    Thanks for covering this story DI i was doing a follow up.
    This is clearly not a case of ‘fake identity’ or ‘sock-puppy’ but rather a case of an ‘anonymous identity’ since Lerato Ma was registered in the email list under which unlike ‘sock puppy’ is its direct puppeteer.
    The ‘pseudonym’ as you referred it therefore has been introduced, as said due to the hostility the real identity experienced on the list when posting under her real name. So this is simply a case of identity protection therefore ‘anonymous identity’

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