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Kenyan High Court stops plans by the Government to snoop on private phone conversations

by Felix Omondi
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The government of Kenya through the regulator Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) had plans to install a Device Management System (DMS). A move that the government justified based on the increasing fraudulent international calls being made from Kenya to Rwanda.

The CA says the Rwandese government has been complaining of calls originating from Kenya to their country. Apparently, Rwanda complained of “SIM boxing operations in Kenya are being used to terminate international traffic, which seemingly appears to be originating from a Kenyan operator into Rwanda resulting into loss of revenue for the country.”

The government of Kenya wanted to install the DMS citing the fraudulent calls emanating from the country to Rwanda as one of the reasons. Well, the High Court made a ruling stopping the installation of the DMS. Justice John Mativo said the installation of the surveillance system will illegally enable the CA to secretly monitor people’s calls, texts, and even transactions on mobile money. The court further said the act will be a gross violation of the statutory consumer rights.

As we had earlier featured, CA had already begun the ground works for installing the DMS on the three leading mobile service carriers; Safaricom, Airtel Kenya, and Telkom. Though Safaricom had publicly refused to corporate with the CA citing such a move will open a window for third parties to gain unauthorized access to users’ sensitive data.

The Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) also voiced its concerns over the installation of the DMS in the country’s mobile service carriers’ networks. The KHRC said such a move will go against the country’s privacy laws.

However, the CA maintains the case for installing the DMS saying it will get rid of counterfeit devices in the local telecom networks such as fake phones. It will also deter scammers from using SIM boxes, which disguise international calls.

Nevertheless, the High Court has thrown out CA’s reasons and declared such a move an illegality which not only breaks the constitution but also goes against consumer rights.

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