Court Explains About Claim To Let Government Listen To Citizens’ Phones


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In a statement on Sunday, April 26, the Judiciary came out to disprove a news report by Standard carried on the daily’s Sunday edition that claimed that in a ruling by the Court of Appeal, the government had been given the go-ahead to tap and listen to private calls. In a statement by the court, The Standard got it wrong. The Communication Authority (CA) engaged mobile network providers suggesting installing a system that would detect stolen phones and forgeries.

The court held that stakeholder engagement should be completed and rules exposed to public participation. The news that the court had made such a ruling provoked mixed reactions with the President of the Law Society of Kenya, Lawyer Nelson Havi terming it as retrogressive. Havi stated that the ruling had come a few years after the High Court suppressed the security laws, that had been intended to the government oversight supremacies over the privacy of Kenyan citizens, as far as investigations and prosecution of cases against terrorism were concerned.

The Standard had earlier reported that the National Government would have the right of entry into people’s phone records and listen to conversations whenever they needed, without having to obtain a court order. Following the misunderstanding of the judgment by the media house, varied reactions were raised with some Kenyans calling on the Judiciary to recap judgments to avoid such situations.

The origins

It’s all panic in Kenya as the Kenyan Government purportedly plans to start tracking citizens phone calls.

Information gathered indicates that the Kenyan Government is requesting permission from mobile telephone service providers to allow it plant gadgets on all networks in the country that have the ability to listen, read and track mobile devices in Kenya.

It is rumoured that the Government, through the Communications Authority (CA), will start fixing the gadgets on the networks run by Safaricom, Airtel, and Telkom Kenya from next week.

The rumoured gadget, which is nicknamed “Black boxes” has the ability to listen, read and track down individuals who own and operate a mobile device in any part of the country.

Quoting, “The black box will have access to all information on our network. With the system, they will tell where you are, who you have called, and how long you will have stayed at a place. If you paid by mobile money, say M-Pesa, they can tell how much you were charged, and so on,”

Reacting to the move by the Government, The Consumer Federation of Kenya (COFEK) has warned that they will sue the Communications Authority (CA), service providers and other operators if the tracking system is implemented.

“This system will compromise consumer privacy and monitor calls and text messages while exposing consumers to higher billing and occasion poor quality services,” Cofek Secretary General Stephen Mutoro was quoted.

Apparently, the word “privacy” in the Kenyan Government’s dictionary has some other meaning different from the conventional’s. Or perhaps the word doesn’t exist at all.

You would agree with me that if the Kenyan Government had a good understanding of the word, they wouldn’t think towards infringing the privacy of citizens by tracking citizens phone calls.

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