Gov’t agency staring at endless law suits over mobile phone spying

The Consumer Federation of Kenya (COFEK) has threatened to move to court should the Communications Authority implement a spy system to monitor all mobile phone calls and texts in the country.

COFEK Secretary General, Stephen Mutoro, has warned that the system will compromise consumer privacy by monitoring  calls and text messages a move he says is against the law.

“If the Authority has its way we will have no choice but to go to court to oppose the move, ” he said.

Speaking on phone, Mutoro said that the Communications Authority told the federation that as the new system will only be used to switch off counterfeit phones on the networks.

“I do not think this is the case, the mandate  of Communications Authority is to ensure there is good communication,” added Mutoro.

Human rights defenders have also weighed in on the matter saying mobile privacy is a right of every Kenyan.

Kenyans on their part have opposed this move saying it is an infringement of their right to privacy and should the system be implemented there is no need of owning a mobile phone.

Meanwhile, some leaders from Jubilee, led by nominated Senator Martha Wangari, Sirisia MP John Waluke and Elgeyo Marakwet County Speaker  have supported the move saying it will help in enhancing security especially during the electioneering period.

However, Kibra MP Ken Okoth, feels that it is a waste of time as equally infringing on the right to privacy of Kenyans.

“NIS has enough equipment to conduct such investigations on people they suspect to be criminals or terrorists,with that they have all the rights but not to infringe on the right to privacy for all Kenyans, ” argued Mr Okoth.

At the same time, activist Okiya Omtata has moved to court seeking to block Communications Authority from installing the Device Management System (DMS).

In his petition, Omtata argues that the government’s decision to set up a system spying on Kenyans is unconstitutional and, therefore, null and void.

He further argues that the right to privacy is entrenched in the constitution and cannot be limited without reference to Article 24 of the constitution.

Orange Telkom Kenya , Airtel Networks Kenya Limited and Safaricom Limited have been named as interested parties in the case.

The matter will be heard on the 20th of February 2017.

The Government, through the Communications Authority will start fixing the gadgets on the networks run by Safaricom, Airtel, and Telkom Kenya from next week.

Additional details by Dzuya Walters