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Operator moves on
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Saturday, Jan 25th

Could Kenya shut down the internet before the elections?

Could Kenya shut down the internet before the elections?

Despite reassurance that there are no plans to interfere with communications during or after the elections, Kenya's government has said it would act against the abuse of any communications platform in the interests of national security.

Speaking today after a stakeholders meeting on election preparedness, the Communication Authority Director General, Francis Wangusi said that if social media "is misused", authorities would act.

"All platforms are under watch - be it the telecommunication, media and social media platforms. Anybody who happens to send hate speech messages through whatever platform that we have, we would be able to know you, bring it down, and we will of course feed the information to law enforcement agencies," Wangusi said.

He added that they have the ability to physically track down perpetrators and shut down the "system".

Joe Mucheru, Cabinet Secretary for Information, Communication and Technology, said they would "take any measure" to secure the country.

"A warning to those who think they can start inflaming situations through social media and false reporting, we are very clear that as a country we have to take care of Kenya first. So we will take any measures required to ensure that as the constitution requires, that we protect Kenyans," he told a local television station. "But so far there are no indications that we should take any adverse actions to ensure our safety."

Dennis Owino, an investigative analyst with Kenya Insight told ITWeb Africa that the CA has made strides to survey the internet.

"(The) Communication Authority of Kenya and National Cohesion Commission have made their intentions clear for regulating and monitoring social media during the elections ... CA had made a controversial application that would allow them to tap into the systems," Owino said.

He referred to a report by Privacy International released in March this year that the government already has surveillance systems within the network ecosystem.

Privacy International's report Track, Capture, Kill: Inside Communications Surveillance and Counterterrorism in Kenya, revealed that the NIS has direct access to Kenya's telecommunications networks, which allows for the interception of both communications data and content.


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