The word monitoring sends a chilling effect in the spines of many people, especially concerning their privacy. This is what Internet users in Kenya will be dealing with, after Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) announced last week of its plans to monitor Internet activity in a bid to fight rising cases of cyber crime in the country.
The communications regulator, in an official letter to Internet Service Providers (ISP’s), informed them of the requirement to install sensors to be used with the Network Early Warning Systems (NEWS). These sensors will then relay information to the central server for the collection and analysis of possible cyber threats, in one of Africa’s countries with most developed Internet infrastructure.
This announcement sparked a lot of debate from both the ISP’s and the users concerned about their privacy. Speaking to HumanIPO, John Mburu, an ICT Lawyer with JM & Co, Advocates, said, “This is in contradiction with the current constitution of Kenya where Citizens have a right to privacy. Unless provisions are enacted for the same stipulating when and how far to go with this monitoring, there is bound to be a lot of opposition.”
But the biggest question that everyone is asking themselves is “how, with what and how far is this monitoring going to go?” Many people are in fear that privacy of their data is not guaranteed. So far, many ISP’s are opposed to the idea, and even one operator who sought anonymity was quoted saying, “We don’t actually understand how such a system would work without infringing on the privacy of our clients as guaranteed in the Constitution.”
China can be termed as a country with the most comprehensive Internet monitoring policy, commonly known as The Great Firewall of China. The Chinese government has spent millions of dollars on filters and other blocking devices to prevent the spread of information over the Internet. A special 30,000-member police unit checks chat lines, looks for spikes in Internet traffic, monitors and screens websites and blogs for sensitive material and blocks access to violators. Advanced technology is deployed to block access to overseas websites regarded as threatening.
The technologies to be used by the CCK in executing this new directive are yet to be explained further, though they have already signed a deal with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), who will set up the system. HumanIPO’s efforts to get a comment from CCK on the same issue, were not fruitful, as the journalist was told to wait for the official communication to come later.