An earlier report emerging from Kenya had it that Kenyan authorities were forging a plan that would see them monitoring the phone calls, text messages, and mobile money transactions of Kenyans.
The planned intrusion into the privacy of Kenyans was heavily condemned but a new report by UK-based human rights watchdog, Privacy International, is sure to cause a greater uproar.
The report by Privacy international implicates Kenya’s security and counterterrorism agencies in acts of pressuring telecommunication companies to gain access to customer data. The new report also claims that such data is then used to commit gross human rights abuses.
According to the group, intelligence agencies reportedly place enforcement agents within telecom operators’ facilities, circumvent the law and protocol to access information, and directly intercept communications among private citizens.
Track, Capture, Kill as the Privacy International report is so cleverly named shows Kenya’s law enforcement units having unimaginable access that grants them the ability “to spy on, profile, locate, track – and ultimately arrest, torture, kill or disappear suspects,”
Privacy International’s findings were based on interviews and testimonies from intelligence and military officials, besides operators, regulators, and lawyers. They paint a grave picture of how anti-terrorism agencies are so immersed within the system that operators have “little to no knowledge” of the interception taking place within their networks.
The findings documented in the report were disputed by Safaricom, Kenya’s largest mobile operator. The operator insisted that they retain “a deep respect and commitment to ensuring our customer data remains private.” Also adding that only authorized staff had access to its systems and that it did not have any intelligence officers “employed, formally or informally, at Safaricom.”
The findings although disputed do not bode well for Kenyatta’s government as elections loom just five months away. The public is already wary of the established intent of the Communications Authority of Kenya to monitor social media for hate speech during the election season. If Kenyans believe that their privacy has been trampled upon in such a way, it may swing the elections away from President Kenyatta’s court.