By Winnie Kabintie
A high court judge has declared illegal the plans by the government to tap private phone conversations saying its a violation of consumer rights.
Justice John Mativo, who has been hailed for his landmark rulings, said the move by the Communications Authority (CA) is illegal and there was no public participation before the government made the decision.
GOVERNMENT PLAN TO TAP PHONE CALLS
The government through the CA was planning to tap into conversations by planting spy gadgets on all telecommunications networks on grounds of fighting cyber crime. CA had written to Airtel, Safaricom and Telcom seeking the networks to plant the spy gadgets on their computers and went ahead to contract M/S Broadband Communications Networks Ltd to do the installation of the gadgets.
According to CA Director-General Francis Wangusi, the decision was arrived at following the need to track counterfeit devices and curb the increasing cases of cybercrime.
Although government security agencies can get access to personal mobile data including call logs and SMS, they is a legal process to follow but if the government had its way in the current plan, security agents would to be allowed to listen to your calls, read your text messages and even review your mobile money transactions as a matter of routine.
The mobile networks have been opposed to the government’s plan to spy on their subscribers, saying it would compromise their privacy and personal data.
OKIYA OMTATAH WINS CASE AGAINST GOVERNMENT PLAN TO SPY ON KENYANS
Activist Okiya Omtatah had moved to court in February to challenge the government’s plan to spy on wananchi arguing that it was illegal and a violation of the public right to privacy.
“Their decision to spy on Kenyans through Broadband Communications Networks Limited violates both the law and the Constitution. There is no legal framework backing such development and members of the public will be prejudiced due to invasion of their privacy,” said Omtatah.
Omtatah further stated that Broadband Communications Networks Limited has no legal capacity to protect customer confidentiality and will illegally share people’s information with Government authorities.