SMS-related rules on hate speech to be released soon

The committee working on rules targeted at regulating SMS text messages on hate speech perpetrators in Kenya has already drafted the guidelines and unveiled it to the public to comment until August 27.

The committee will later come up with new SMS-related laws and regulations governing hate speech.
Communication Commission of Kenya’s SMS draft guidelines bar politicians from sending bulk messages that violate the electioneering process across the networks. The political message must also have the names of the political party or the individual sponsoring it.
Messages that are threatening, abusive, offensive, threatening, insulting, obscene or expose an individual or group of individuals to violence, hatred, hostility, discrimination or ridicule on the basis of ethnicity, tribe, race, colour, religion and gender will not be send.
Political SMS will only be delivered via licensed Content Service Providers (CSPs) after complying with mobile phone service providers’ terms and condition. They must be reviewed for 48 hours before the messages can be sent.

The MNO has the right to refuse to transmit the message if it in inflammatory, inciting or otherwise in violation of the drafted proposed law.
CCK is working with the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC), Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), the Registrar of Political Parties (RPP) and the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs).
Kenya’s general elections is set for March 4, 2013 and politicians may take advantage of the situation to confuse citizens by sending SMS that may incite communities on the basis of ethnicity, religion or race for their own selfish interests, according to the CCK.

SMS is blamed as one of the channels that was used to disseminate negative information during the 2007 General elections as reported by UN Human Rights Group.
The Kenya post-election violence claimed more than 1,300 lives while close to 300,000 people were displaced. Over 42,000 houses and businesses were reportedly destroyed.
Late last month, HumanIPO reported that Kenya’s leading mobile network operator had promised not to entertain hate speech during the campaign process. The firm’s chief Bob Collymore said he will not entertain hate speech perpetrator in the country during the election year and promised to switch off such subscribers.
Collymore clarified that his company will be strict on SMS and Internet use ensuring they comply with rules and regulations.

Other mobile network operators in the country yet to state their declarations include Orange, Airtel and Yu.

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