How Govt Monitors Texts, Social Media to Keep Kenyans Safe

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    An 2018 image of Kenyan youth perusing a phone.
    File
  • With exactly¬†269 days to the August 9, 2022 General Election, the government has started putting in place measures to curb any cases of insecurity and civil unrest that may jeopardise peace.

    The government, in its preparations for the polls, has continuously assured Kenyans that it will not allow a repeat of the 2007-2008 post poll chaos that saw over 1,300 people lose their lives, and over half a million others displaced.

    Privacy International in a security report dated 2017 explains that the government sets aside funds with the aim of monitoring Kenyans' communications and devices.

    A signage showing the Communications Authority of Kenya
    A signage showing the Communications Authority of Kenya
    File

    Kenya's Communication Authority monitors radio frequencies, social media platforms and manages devices with an aim of enforcing regulatory compliance.

    A device management system leaked to the press in February 2017 indicated that there was a third project 'Device Management System' which required access to Kenyans' Call Data Records (CDRs) or Home Location Records (HLRs).

    CA Director of Licensing Compliance and Standards at the time, Chris Kemei, indicated that the analysis of CDR data was necessary to establish broad patterns of traffic which may indicate unauthorised activity.

    "But only in cases where there is that doubt...we can use that system to confirm whether that is the case or not," Kemei stated.

    Communication Authority finalised a contract with Israeli 'web intelligence' to allow for the capture and analysis of open-source traffic and is particularly adapted to analyzing social media.

    Intelligence officers have previously admitted to witnessing the misuse of communications surveillance powers in a bid to save a huge number of people.

    "People will accept it, or it will have a waiver to a certain extent," one of the NIS officers stated.

    "We can infringe on your rights because of saving the lives of hundred Kenyans... Not that we like doing it," another stated.

    Communication Authority oversees the telecommunications industry and is mandated to inspect all interception equipment in the country.

    Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) headquarters in Nairobi.
    Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) headquarters in Nairobi.
    File