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INTERNET PRIVACY IN KENYA CONCERNS

CYBERCRIMES BILL WORRIES IT EXPERTS

The deadline for last submissions on the Cybercrimes Bill 2017 passed virtually without notice on February 14 but there are growing concerns that the new legislation will cut across fundamental rights to privacy.

The proposed Bill would force Internet Service Providers and telecommunications companies such as Safaricom to release what was previously private information to the police without the need for a court order.

KENYA ICT ACTION NETWORK MEMO

Members of Kenya ICT Action Network (KICTANET), a grouping of IT experts and civil society activists want sections of the Bill removed to protect people’s rights to privacy.

Their concern is that sections of the Bill would empower the police to compel service providers with “subscriber information” on the grounds that they have “reasonable grounds to believe” that the information could be useful to an investigation.

In a memorandum to parliament KICTANET said: “The provision violates the rights to privacy… it defeats the purpose of having a court process, provides an opportunity for abuse and cannot be remedied if the court order sought is not granted”.

KICTANET also want clauses in the Bill deleted which they say will give the police the power to intercept electronic communications such as emails.

The IT campaign group argue that the right to privacy should only be limited in the circumstances where there is an investigation in progress and when warrants have been granted to the police by a court.

The Network are also concerned that even where a website, for example, published information that was believed to be truthful, even it subsequently proved to be erroneous, the publisher could fined up to Sh5 million, or sentenced to two years in prison, for publishing “false, misleading and fictitious date”.

 

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