Kenya: Govt. orders telecommunication companies to allow it to access data; move feared to compromise users privacy

Author: Edwin Okoth, Daily Nation (Kenya), Published on: 17 February 2017

"Big Brother could start tapping your calls, texts from next week"

From Tuesday, the government wants to be allowed to listen to your calls, read your texts and review your mobile money transactions. The government, through the Communications Authority of Kenya, has ordered mobile phone companies to allow it to tap their computers. The tapping into these computers will be done by a company contracted by the agency. Though the reason given for the tapping is tracking counterfeit devices, the minute it starts, 40 million Kenyans will lose their privacy...

The authority has already written to mobile phone service providers setting up dates for the plugging of the snooping device, with some as close as Tuesday next week. It will involve the third party company getting hooked up to all routers at Safaricom, Airtel and Orange Telkom, effectively opening up private communication data to an entity other than those licensed to hold them and the government.

The Nation has obtained a copy of a letter addressed to one of the operators, asking it to authorise the third party to install the link that would open up SMS, call and mobile money transfer data to the third party as the plan takes shape quietly. “Kindly facilitate our principal contractor, M/S Broadband Communications Networks Ltd, to access your site and install the link at the data-centre or the mobile switching room. "The link should terminate close to the core network elements that shall integrate to the DMS solution...A source privy to the system said the need to tell fake devices from genuine ones will only need a control on the unique 15 digit code called International Mobile Equipment Identity or IMEI..."What is going to happen is an invasion into privacy of Kenyans who do not know what is going on,” said the source.

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Related companies: Bharti Airtel Orange Safaricom