April 20, 2019

Safaricom, COFEK oppose monitoring system on mobile phone networks

By Waweru Titus

The Communication Authority (CA) has said it will go ahead with a plan to install a monitoring system on mobile phone networks despite opposition from mobile service providers, organisations and the public.

CA Director-General Francis Wangusi insisted that the he would not relent until the plan is fully implemented.

Mr Wangusi said the Device Management System (DMS) had been effective for almost a year and that consultation with mobile operators was sufficient.

He indicated that the system protects Kenyans from illegal and counterfeit communication devices.

“If we want to protect this country from such predatory behaviour, we should not backtrack from the plan,” he said.

Mobile service providers and other organisations have opposed the move saying it is a plan by the government to tap private data of mobile phone users.

Addressing journalists on Friday (17/02/17), CA denied reports which alleged that the three telecommunication firms operating in Kenya had received an executive order to allow the authority hack into their computer servers with the DMS.

Mr Wangusi noted that the DMS does not have ability to access information on mobile devices including details on subscribers’ communications such as voice calls and SMS messages as well as mobile money transactions.

Safaricom opposed the move arguing it gives the Communications Authority access to sensitive customer information.

“In our assessment these probes, will replicate the entire network – including voice, SMS and in the case of Safaricom, mobile money, and make this data available to the Communications Authority,” Safaricom Corporate Affairs Director Stephen Chege said.

The Consumer Federation of Kenya (COFEK) has also threatened to move to court should the system be implemented.

According to COFEK Secretary General Stephen Mutoro, the system will compromise consumer privacy by monitoring calls and text messages.

“If the Authority has its way we will have no choice but to go to court to oppose the move, ” he said.

Human rights defenders also indicated that mobile privacy is a right of every Kenyan.

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