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New law tightens noose on Online hackers

By Alphonce Shiundu | December 30th 2015
CA Director General Francis Wangusi

You will now need your national identity card, birth certificate or passport before using the internet, the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) has said.

The authority also seeks to have all internet users in cybercafés or in hotels and restaurants to leave behind all their personal details before they log onto the internet in the cyber or in public wireless hotspots.

In addition, CA wants service providers to retain data that will allow them to trace and identify the source of communication, the type of gadget used (phone, tablet or computer), the destination, the date, time and duration of the communication and even the geographical location of the sender and recipient of the message. Those giving internet services will have to install closed-circuit television cameras that will record the identity of the clients and also maintain a register of the clients.

These are some of the new rules the telecommunications regulator has issued to govern the broadcast and internet industry in the wake of increasing cases of cyber crime and terrorism.

In Kenya, it is now law that anyone who owns a SIM card has to register with the mobile operator leaving behind details, but the new thing is that even when accessing public hotspots or free internet anywhere, these details will be mandatory. This information shall be kept for a year and be provided to the authorities on request.

The authority has said anyone who uses an unregistered mobile phone number to access the internet will have committed an offence. The fine for such is a maximum of Sh3 million or a maximum jail term of seven years.

CA Director General Francis Wangusi prohibits in the new regulations that were up for public debate for the past month the use of private internet protocol (IP) address on computers. To enforce this, anyone running a cyber café or providing internet services will need the permission of the authority.

There is also a curious call for the service providers to keep information on internet use in their premises.

"Operators of cyber cafés and Public Wireless Hotspots shall ensure that system logs are retained in their original for periods of not less than one year from the date of the communication. CA may issue guidelines on retention of communication logs from time to time," read the Kenya Information Communications (Cyber security) Regulations.

In the new rules, CA has outlawed any media house from paying a criminal to provide information. The move deals a blow to investigative journalists to secure information on the inside workings of the crime underworld.

The regulations also put stricter controls on advertising and outlaw firms from throwing jabs at their competitors. Media houses will also be asked to vet adverts before they run them.

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