The government, through the Communications Authority (CA) is seeking to install devices on all mobile networks in the country that will enable the state to listen, read and track any communication made by wananchi.
In a letter written to all the major telecommunications namely, Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom Kenya, The authority is seeking have the service providers allow its agents to install the devices “black boxes” in their data centers or mobile switching rooms thus enabling them to gain access to all information transacted on your phone.
A private company by the name broadband communications has been contracted by CA to oversee the installation, and the process is expected to kick off from Tuesday next week.
Through the device, the government will able to monitor among other things your location, duration of the call, the identity of the recipient and your Mpesa details.
The Communication Authority has however denied the allegations that the system, the Device Management System (DMS), is aimed at snooping on citizen’s personal data saying that it will only be used to switch off counterfeit phones on the networks.
The system aims at preventing access to mobile services by illegal communication devices and not to access subscriber personal information details,” said Rachel Alwala, CA spokesperson.
Mobile operators have already expressed their reservations over the DMS solution in fear of legal suits that might trickle over the loss of customer privacy data especially since the third party company contracted to install the devices does not bear any responsibility to protect customer confidentiality.
“As in the past, we maintain our commitment to protect our customers & their right to privacy,”read a tweet on Safaricom’s handle.
The Consumer Federation of Kenya (COFEK) has criticized the move by the government saying it’s unconstitutional adding that the communications authority will open up private data to the staff of other government agencies like the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), Kenya Bureau Of Standards (KEBS) and the Kenya anti-counterfeit agency among others.
“This system will compromise consumer privacy and monitor calls and texts while exposing consumers to higher billing and occasion poor quality services,” said.Cofek Secretary General Stephen Mutoro.