The government, through the Communication Authority (CA) on Friday announced its plan to go ahead with the installation of a tracking system for mobile phones.
CA received a nod from the Supreme Court on April 2023 to go ahead with the plan to install a Device Management System (DMS) which can monitor the activities of mobile phone subscribers, but it delayed the rollout.
Information Communication and Technology (ICT) Cabinet Secretary Eliud Owalo, while addressing the Senate ICT Committee on Friday, assured legislators that the State would not infringe on the privacy of Kenyans through the DMS system.
He noted that the software would only be used to curb the spread of counterfeit mobile devices as well as the increasing theft of smartphones.
The spying of mobile phones by the State was necessitated by the influx of counterfeit substandard and non-type approved devices in the country, according to the CS.
"CA has set out to develop an effective technological solution to control the threat through the deployment of a system to automatically detect and disable end-user equipment that does not meet set criteria,” Owalo explained how the software would work.
Owalo was optimistic that with the rollout of DMS, his Ministry would bring to an end SIM Boxing fraud. A SIM Box scam is a commonly used technique by fraudsters in Kenya to divert international calls to a mobile phone through the internet.
Using the SIM box device, the scammers route the connection back into the network as local calls, which is made possible by fraudulently obtained and often unregistered SIM cards.
With DMS, the ICT Ministry remarks that it will no longer be possible to terminate or receive international calls from the Internet and feed them to the country's mobile network subscribers disguised as local telephone traffic.
Busia Senator Okiya Omtatah, on Sunday, however, reiterated DMS was inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution as it was a threat to the subscribers' right to Privacy.
Owalo, however, defended the decision noting that the implementation will be done in strict compliance with the Constitution and all other relevant laws in the country.
CA will also coordinate with the National Police Service, the Mobile Network Operators, the Kenya Trade Network Agency, the Kenya Bureau of Standards, and the Anti Counterfeit Agency to ensure the plan is rolled out successfully.
Earlier, the regulator denied reports that DMS can be used to access phone records, location, and mobile money transactions.
DMS was first touted in 2016 but multiple court cases hampered its implementation before the Supreme Court allowed for its implementation.