May 24, 2019

Why Government will not snoop into your private phone calls

Government and the Communications Authority (CA) will not be able to snoop into your private mobile phone conversations.

This is after the High Court on Thursday (19/4/18) declared a plan by CA and Government to tap into private phone conversations illegal and a violation of consumer rights.

Judge John Mativo pointed out that the move to install spy gadgets is inconsistent with the Constitution.

According to judge Mativo, the decision to tap into phone calls needed adequate public participation before implementation.

CA wanted Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom Kenya to install a Data Management System (DMS) arguing it would help in detecting fake mobile phones.

“Accessing mobile telephone subscriber’s information in a manner other than that which is provided under the law infringes the right to privacy. It follows that for the DMS to be lawful, the reason given must not only be lawful but must meet the threshold of a reasonable, justifiable and democratic society,” said Justice Mativo.

The petition was filed last year by Activist Okiya Omtatah who said that the Government’s decision to spy on Kenyans through Broadband Communications Networks Limited violated the Constitution.

Omtatah argued the matter was extremely urgent as the move was set to commence on Tuesday, February 21, 2017.

“The respondents have threatened Article 31 of the Constitution of Kenya by setting into motion a mechanism that will interfere with the right to freedom of conscience, religion, thought, belief and opinion,” read his petition.

He argued that the right to privacy is entrenched in the Constitution and cannot be limited without reference to Article 24 of the constitution.

He further claimed that the State’s decision to set up a system to spy on Kenyans was unconstitutional and therefore null and void.

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