Domain names expire, drop and get re-registered all the time. It’s normal.
However, governments are usually very conservative about how they handle domain names. A government department is more likely to hold on to a domain name for several years after they’ve stopped using it rather than “release” it too early.
According to this article, however, the government of Mauritius seems to have dropped the ball quite badly.
The domain name gov.mu is currently going to a holding page with a “for sale” sign:
The “for sale” notice also gives some details of the volume of traffic that the domain was getting prior to this.
Prior to this the domain name was used for the government portal and apparently several hundred domains (or sub-domains) were hanging off gov.mu.
So who is selling the domain?
This is where the story seems to take a rather odd, yet interesting, twist.
While you might have expected this story to involve a 3rd party who had snapped the domain on drop or similar, in the case of gov.mu that is not what happened at all.
The domain name is currently held by the .mu registry who apparently are embroiled in a dispute with the government.
According to a statement on the .mu registry’s site the government doesn’t want to pay for the domain name and is suing the registry! (The .mu ccTLD is currently run by Internet Direct Ltd)
Here’s the statement:
With regards to the disruption under GOV.MU, we would like to assure our customers that we have never and will never suspend a domain which has been paid for. There were no technical issues at the TLD level which lead to the disruption of GOV.MU domains. It was purely a commercial issue. We provided this service in advance of payment to the Government of Mauritius.
Despite numerous extensions over the years for the hundreds of domains under GOV.MU, we did not get paid and are being sued in the Supreme Court to provide this service “FOR FREE AND IN PERPETUITY”. We have pleaded with our service provider to continue providing this service, while negotiation continues with the Government of Mauritius towards an amicable settlement.
Getting into a legal battle with anyone is never fun, but when it involves a government .. ..