30 July, 2011

Global Voices Post on Facebook, Kingpin Act and Harun Mwau

Facebook Should Unfriend John Mwau ( This a Re print of a post published by the author at GlobalVoices)

A Kenyan blogger Daudi Were has raised an interesting question about whether the U.S. government will be willing to enforce the Kingpin Act against Facebook for apparently doing business with a Kenyan national John Harun Mwau who had earlier this year been designated as a drug lord under the Kingpin Act (See White House Press Release).
The Kingpin Act denies significant foreign narcotics traffickers, their related businesses, and their operatives access to the U.S. financial system and prohibits all trade and transactions between the traffickers and U.S. companies and individuals.
Daudi makes some interesting observations in his post titled “Facebook Should Unfriend Mwau”:
In other words Kingpin Act targets, on a worldwide basis, significant foreign narcotics traffickers, their organizations, and operatives by making it illegal for any U.S. company or any U.S. individual to conduct any financial transactions with them.
Daudi further elaborates:
Facebook is a social networking service and website operated and privately owned by Facebook, Inc. Facebook, Inc was founded in 2004 and is based in Palo Alto, California. It is a U.S. company. Ownership of Facebook, Inc is shared between Mark Zuckerberg, Accel Partners, Digital Sky Technologies, Greylock Partners, Meritech Capital Partners and Microsoft amongst others. Most are U.S. citizens and U.S. companies.
Remember that U.S. companies and U.S. individuals are forbidden from any financial transactions with narcotics traffickers named through the Kingpin Act. The fines for ignoring the Act range from USD 1 million to USD 10 million and there’s also the not very little matter of the possibility of 30 years imprisonment.
Last night I started noticing adverts on Facebook for John Harun Mwau’s Facebook page. The text for the ad reads:The text for the ad reads:
Success and Wealth are but a state of mind. Discover the principles that guided me to Success on My Facebook Page.
These ads are typical paid for, they usually involve some sort of financial transaction. The type of transaction the Kingpin Act forbids.
He then makes a significant question that begs an answer from Facebook:
The world is a village. You never know when a “significant narcotics trafficker” is going to buy ads on your service. The real question here perhaps is what will these U.S. companies, such as Facebook and Microsoft, do when they find out individuals they are not allowed to do business with are buying their services?
Jke  of KikuyuMoja blog leaves a comment on the post stating:
FB & Mwau: hahahaha, good point! I’d like to see someone from the Embassy reply on this one. Or maybe they will argue that the ads weren’t bought by Mwau but instead by his supporters (which isn’t the same, ama?).
Daudi responds:
@JKE – the act targets traffickers, their related businesses, and their operatives. So friends, friends of friends, supporters etc all count in my book!
The naming of John Harun Mwau as a drug Kingpin back in June created a lot of buzz online.
Reacting to the news at the time, Kenyan Jurist wrote:
The Kingpin designation essentially makes Mwau a pariah and any financial relationship with him becomes toxic particularly when it falls within the jurisdiction of the US. This in essence applies to any foreign transaction, where money may be routed through the US. It is also a warning to the Government of Kenya to take the problem of drug trafficking seriously.
Kenyan Stockholm blog published the letter from Barack Obama on the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act, which drew 21 comments.
Following alleged attack on Mwau's vehicle, blogger Wesley Rants wrote:
Then this allusion that Obama is after his personal wealth and consequently the boss’s life is in danger is clutching at straws literally, really?
As for the demand that government accords him extra security, didn’t I just read that there was a driver and a bodyguard in the car? Don’t all Mps have a bodyguard provided at our expense?
Maybe our local bosses can borrow a leaf from Mexico where bosses are building their own battle tanks:
Is the Kingpin Act just a public relations stunt? Kenyans are eager to see what will be the official response to the question raised by Daudi Were.

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