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Okiya Omtatah seeks court intervention on move to spy on Kenyans mobile phones

By Paul Ogemba | Feb 17th 2017 | 2 min read
Activist Omkia Omtatah

NAIROBI: An activist has petitioned the High Court to stop Communication Authority from spying on mobile phones.

Okiya Omtatah in an urgent suit argued that the Government's intention to plant gadgets in mobile telephone service providers to obtain data and details of mobile devices was illegal and a violation of the public right to privacy.

"Their decision to spy on Kenyans through Broadband Communications Networks Limited violates both the law and the Constitution. There is no legal framework backing such development and members of the public will be prejudiced due to invasion of their privacy," said Omtatah.

He submitted that Broadband Communications Networks Limited, the company being used by CA to implement the directive, has no legal capacity to protect customer confidentiality and will illegally share people's information with Government authorities.

Omtatah accused the CA of lying to Kenyans that the gadgets will only track fake equipment, arguing that there are existing laws being used by mobile network providers to detect fake phones.

The government on February 6 wrote to mobile telephone providers Safaricom Limited, Airtel Networks Limited and Orange-Telkom Kenya to allow the tapping of their computers by planting spying plant gadgets on all networks in the country.

The devices can access information stored by service providers and transacted on phone owned by individuals, including the times and dates of then communication, exact location of calls and duration of calls.

"There is already existing laws allowing the government to tap into a person phone through a court order. Although they claim the move is to track counterfeit devices, it is the Kenyans who will suffer by losing their privacy," swore Omtatah.

He added that the authority had violated the law by resorting to implement the directive secretly without involving key stakeholders and members of the public to give their views.

He said that is the move is allowed, the public will have no right to freedom of conscience, freedom of thought, belief and opinion.

The activist wants orders stopping implementation of the directive until the suit is heard and determined. The application was certified as urgent and set for hearing on Monday.

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