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Yes, you read that right. Apparently, the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) has released a new directive to all internet service providers in the country requiring them to make it mandatory for users to fully identify themselves.

The CA wants internet user to provide either their birth certificate, national identity card, or passport before they are allowed to go online. Users who access the internet on public platforms such as the cyber cafes, school library, hotels, and restaurant will also be required to provide the management the above-mentioned identification documents.

On top of that, the CA also wants internet service providers (ISP) to start logging each user’s online activities. That is the user’s device (computer, smartphone, or tablet), their location, date, time, and duration of their browsing. It also wants the ISP to tell them who the user is talking to online and their location geographically.

Kenyans will now require birth certificate, National ID, Passport to access the Internet

The information collected by ISP will be kept for a year and can be demanded by the authorities at any moment. When they ask for that information, the ISP better have it ready for their perusal. Those businesses providing public access computers for internet – cyber cafe or Wi-Fi – at a fee, will also need to get permission from the authority to operate.

Operators of cyber cafes and public wireless hotspots shall ensure that system logs are retained in their original for periods of not less than one year from the date of the communication, CA may issue guidelines on retention of communication logs from time to time,” reads in part a press statement by the regulator.

The new laws were not affecting the telecommunication industry alone. The CA has also introduced new laws affecting the broadcasting industry. One of the most absurd is, that no media house shall be allowed to pay hackers for information. That will be a big blow to journalists who secure confidential information by outsourcing the information from operatives lurking in the dark internet.

The CA has also banned the practice of media houses carrying ads, where one business it throwing jabs at its competition.

All in the name of counter-terrorism

These new rafts of rules by the regulator are said to be geared towards fighting terrorism. Well, that is absolutely true. These new measures will make it easier for the authorities to sniff out terrorist plans before they are executed.

However, it also opens a way for the government to spy on its citizens. If the ISPs are logging internet users activities, and are supposed to hand that information to the government at moment’s notice.

It will be possible for the government or rather ruling political class to spy on say, leaders of the opposition, those leading in anti-government protests. These laws infringe on citizen’s right to privacy online.

It’s time Kenyans start adopting VPNs

Of late, the Kenyan government has been bulldozing its agenda on citizens. They come up with new taxes and laws without involving the public. Yet public participation during the formulation of these new rules and taxes is expected.

As a citizen, you have a right to privacy and not being spied on by your government. If the CA wants ISPs to log your activities, then you remain with little choice but start using software on your devices that hide your activities.

That includes the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and browsers such as Tor. More details on how you can do that can be found at this link.

Must Read: For maximum Cybersecurity, should you be using VPN or Tor? Use both concurrently?

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