Back in July 2017, we ran an article about the ‘all-seeing, always-knowing Big Brother’ that the Kenya’s Communications Authority (CA) was installing into telecommunications networks dubbed the Device Management System (DMS). The CA said the device was meant to clamp down on fake and stolen mobile devices being used in the various mobile service carriers’ networks.
However, there was a genuine concern for user privacy, as addressed by leading mobile carrier in the country Safaricom, who seemed unsettled by the introduction of the DMS. The telecom said the CA did not address its concerns about the potential of an unauthorized third party getting their hands on subscriber’s private information satisfactorily.
Due to the divisive and highly-charged nature of Kenyan politics, a section of the public believed the CA’s move was a hidden hand of the government trying to control platforms for airing one’s opinion publicly.
Be that as it may, almost four months and two presidential elections down the road. The CA now says it has closed down some 300 social media accounts, and people are currently facing charges of incitement, impersonation, and misuse of the platform and hate speech.
The Director of CA, Francis Wangusi says, “We have dealt with over 300 cases of social media incitement and have brought a number of people to book though most of these cases are now under National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) and we cannot comment much on the same. We have also brought down a number of sites that have been impersonating media houses, politicians, and high-profile people.”
From the looks of things, it will be safe to say the Ksh. 600 million ($5.8m) around the clock social media monitoring system is paying off. As to whether the CA is applying the law indiscriminately and bringing to book both the ‘small and big fish’ who break the law online from both side of the political decide remains a topic for the political pundits to delve into.