As the Kenya heads to the General Elections slated for August 8, 2017, the communications regulator has said that while they have no plans of shutting down the internet. The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) Director General, Francis Wangusi, then added that poll violence could compel them to shut down the internet.
ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru also weighed in on the issue affirming that it s not government policy to shutdown the internet. “It is not our expectation the country will be in the position to shut down internet services”, he added.
There have been concerns that Kenya could follow other African countries like Gambia, Ghana, Gabon and Uganda who held elections recently with some shutting down the internet. Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Morocco, Algeria, Burundi, Libya, Egypt, the Central African Republic, Sudan and Niger have recently shutdown the internet due to rising tensions in their countries.
These concerns were also highlighted by BAKE when it released the state of the internet report 2016.
Engineer Wangusi also added that CA spent Ksh. 400 million last year on an internet surveillance system that can monitor activities through mobile phones. Another Ksh. 1.1 billion was spent to install a spectrum monitoring system to monitor unauthorised communication through other channels. The regulator did not share the specific systems that they acquired or if they are already operational.
This has equally sparked debate as to whether the regulator is infringing on Kenyans freedom of expression and snooping on communication between and among people especially in mobile applications like WhatsApp, Telegram among others.