Yesterday, news flying around stated that the Court of Appeal had allowed the Communication Authority of Kenya (CAK) to install a ‘mass surveillance’ system that would allow the government to listen in on our phone conversations, a statement that the Judiciary in a statement on Sunday, April 26, came out to refute.
The news stated that the CAK was now set to install the controversial Data Management System (DMS) meant to monitor and tap into phone networks. ”The Standard got it wrong. Communication Authority (CA) engaged mobile network providers proposing to install a system to detect stolen phones and counterfeits…The court held that the stakeholder engagement should be completed and the rules subjected to public participation,” the statement by the judiciary stated.
Installation of DMS was first started in January 2017 when former CA director-general Francis Wangusi wrote to the telecom operators to allow them to install the DMS, but the companies rejected the request on grounds that it was spyware to infringe on the privacy of customers.
Safaricom was very vocal saying it was inappropriate to allow installation of the system arbitrarily without consultation because it amounted to the intrusion of privacy as the telecom operators are not supposed to disclose data to third parties.
Already, the tender to install the system had been awarded to Broadcast Communications Network Ltd to install and maintain it at the cost of KSh 100 million, something that has sparked attention from the President of the Law Society of Kenya and prominent lawyer Nelson Havi.
”The ruling is retrogressive as it only comes a few years after the High Court quashed the security laws that were intended to the government oversight powers over the privacy of Kenyan citizens in the investigations and prosecutions of cases against terrorism,” stated Havi. ”But as it comes to occur there was no terrorism that the government was investigating to require such draconian laws, but if you look at the ruling it’s just in line with what the government wanted, and what the Court of Appeal has is to undo many years of progressive gains towards balancing the rights of a private individual against the public interest.”