Government to spy on mobile calls, texts and money transactions

CA has already written to mobile phone service providers setting up dates for the plugging of the snooping device in the coming few weeks.

The Communications Authority of Kenya has already written to mobile phone service providers setting up dates for the plugging of the snooping device in the coming few weeks.

CA has already written to mobile phone service providers setting up dates for the plugging of the snooping device in the coming few weeks.

The device can collect text, voice and identity data from devices.

The devices “black boxes” will mirror or copy the data passing through them to another database sitting at the CA head office.

According to a source who spoke to the media, “The black box will have access to all information on our network. With the system, they will tell where you are, who you have called, and how long you will have stayed at a place. If you paid by mobile money, say M Pesa, they can tell how much you were charged, and so on.”

Consumer rights

The controversial move has created uproar from consumer rights protection groups who fear the copying of data and personal information will flout privacy laws.

The Consumer Federation of Kenya (Cofek) is threatening to sue the operators and the communications regulator if they implement the system.

“This system will compromise consumer privacy and monitor calls and text messages while exposing consumers to higher billing and occasion poor quality services,” Cofek Secretary General Stephen Mutoro said.

He maintained that the move is against the Constitution and will expose the telcos to lawsuits for breach of confidentiality.

Agencies to have access

Other government agencies such as the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), the Anti-Counterfeit Agency, and the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) and the National Police Service will also be allowed access to the information.

Generally, governments can listen to private conversations and access personal data, but are only allowed to do this only when they provide a good reason and after a written consent from a judge.

The government however has said that the main purpose of the move new system will only be used to identify and ban counterfeit, stolen or illegal mobile devices and that Kenyans have nothing to worry about.

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