Kenyans will no longer enjoy the right to privacy as far as use of mobile phones is concerned, starting Tuesday next week as the Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK) will be spying on calls, texts and also reviewing all mobile money transactions.
The authority has ordered all Mobile Network Operators to give them permission to be tapping into their computers stating that they want to track counterfeit devices. The tapping process will be carried out by a contracted company by a Lebanese firm, Broadband Communications Limited, that will hook into all Mobile Network Operators and access all the information from voice, data and text messages.
Usually, before any tapping is carried out, a court order is given that requires police investigations to be conducted on a said subscriber, but that will not be the case from next week.
According to CA, the Device Management System will use unique numbers associated with each mobile cellphone (known as IMEI) to determine whether or not mobile devices are either counterfeit. If that will be the case, the said device will be stopped from conveying the call, text or email.
The DMS is packaged as one that would identify all counterfeit devices on the public telecommunications networks but terminating calls by a third party exclusive of the MNO-consumer contract is not only illegal but dangerous to national security.
The whole tapping process is going to infringe the provisions of Article 31, 35 and 46 of the Constitution. According to Article 31 of the Constitution, “every person has the right to privacy, which included the right NOT to have (c) information relating to their family or private affairs unnecessarily required or revealed; or (d) the privacy of their communications infringed.
According to the Consumer Federation of Kenya (COFEK), the DMS project does not need to access and or risk privacy of consumer communication data. It is likely to be used for extortion. The move will equally scare Kenyans from communicating using phones for fear of loss of private information.
COFEK further noted that should the Mobile Network Operators give in to the pressure by CA, then they should be ready for an avalanche of class action suits for compensation arising from leakages in privacy data.
“We urge CA to slow down its push to impose the DMS on MNO’s. As it stands DMS is counter-productive, unlawful and an economic sabotage for the robust ICT sector in Kenya,” said COFEK.
The body disclosed that should CA proceed then they will have no option other than to move to seek legal redress against CA, Broadband Communications Ltd, Safaricom Ltd, Airtel Kenya and Orange Telkom.