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Political Parties banned from sending vernacular messages

By Dominic Omondi | Published Wed, June 28th 2017 at 13:13, Updated June 28th 2017 at 13:17 GMT +3
Communications Authority of Kenya (CA)

Political parties have been banned from sending bulk SMS and premium rate content in vernaculars.

This is part of the new regulations by Government to stem hate messages through SMS and social media during the electioneering period.

According to the guidelines issued by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) and the National Cohesion and integration Commission (NCIC) bulk and premium content by political parties shall be communicated in English and Kiswahili languages only.

This comes at a time when politicians are on the homestretch for the general elections in August 8. Political parties will be keen to utilize all possible avenues, including bulk SMS and social media, to market themselves to the electorate.

However, the CA and NCIC have moved in swiftly to prevent politicians from turning Facebook, Whats App, Twitter and YouTube into hatemongering platforms.

Under the new stringent regulations, content providers will need to provide mobile network operators such as Safaricom and Airtel with authorization letter from the political party in what is designed to lock-out hate-mongers.

So stringent are the new rules that political parties, currently on an overdrive canvassing for votes will need to wait for as long as four days before publishing their messages which have to undergo a rigorous vetting process.

"Prior to sending a Political Message, CSPs shall make a request to an MNO/MVNO at least forty-eight (48) hours before sending the message," read part of the regulations.

MNOs and MVNOs have at least 18 hours to give a decision after receiving the request.

"The MNO/MVNO has the right to refuse the transmission of a proposed Political Message over its network that it views not to be in compliance with these Guidelines. The MNO/MVNOs shall give the CSP reasons for refusal," noted the regulations signed by the Director General of CA and the Chairman of NCIC.

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