Telecommunications regulators have revived the move to install devices in mobile phone networks to detect counterfeit goods. There are concerns that this could allow watchdogs to access other customer data such as calls, messages, and financial transactions.
The Kenya Communications Authority (CA) hopes the court will lift an order that prevented it from deploying a device management system (DMS) in 2018.
Regulators have denied that DMS has the ability to access subscriber phone records, locations, and details of mobile money transactions, saying the technology could be used to access mobile phone unique identification numbers and assigned subscriber numbers. It claims that it can only detect and record
Safaricom has expressed concern that surveillance devices could give regulators access to other customer data held by carriers.
read: Safaricom confirms its opposition to CA call snooping devices
Busia Senator Okiya Omtata obtained an order to block DMS installations, arguing that regulators would be able to spy on private conversations and gain access to sensitive customer data.
In its appeal, CA said it had no intention of snooping on customer information and that the surveillance devices would be used to crack down on illegal mobile devices operating in the market without violating consumer privacy. rice field.
“With respect to the foregoing, DMS devices have not violated, or intended to violate, the privacy rights of subscribers. It’s not our claim,” Wambua Kilonzo Attorney CA said.
Lawyers said the High Court’s decision was wrong because DMS is incapable of violating subscriber privacy.
“In any case, the right to privacy is not an absolute right, and fighting illegal and harmful devices will be justified,” he said.
CA filed an appeal as the October 15 deadline for SIM card registration, which was extended by six months in April, is approaching. Access to Personal Information by Third Parties.
CA caused a public outcry in January 2017 by sending letters to Safaricom, Airtel and Orange (Telkom) demanding that their contractors be allowed to install snooping devices on carrier sites. rice field.
read: CA stirs up storm with plan to spy on cell phone users
Telecom market regulators defended the move on the grounds that it would help keep counterfeit phones out of the local market.
Omutata questioned CA’s intentions, arguing that the regulator did not seek the legally required public participation before implementing the system.
Safaricom, which was suspended as an interested party in the lawsuit, said it had raised questions about the privacy of data collected by its devices and security agreements with regulators, but nothing was resolved. The High Court ruled that CA had no authority to combat the use of counterfeit goods in the Kenyan market, noting that the law assigns that role to the Anti-Counterfeiting Bureau.
Counterfeit phones, mostly imported from Asia, are prevalent in many African countries, and regulators say they are widely used by criminals because they are difficult to track.
CA has stopped using counterfeit mobile phones in the past, but says consumers are still exposed to such devices and need better surveillance systems. In its appeal, the regulator says it has the power to monitor compliance under the Kenya Information and Communications Act (KICA) and that the DMS is not a new policy and is only intended to control the proliferation of illegal devices. .
Authorities further said the case was premised on a hypothetical situation and that Omtata provided no evidence to support the existence or possible violation of any person’s fundamental rights.
Chironzo further relied on an unnamed technical expert, saying Snooping’s claims were general and vague, and that the claims were based on newspaper clippings and had no other evidence.
“That courts are not expected to engage in abstract debate is an extension of the now accepted law. It prevents us from making decisions, hence the principle of maturity.”
Regulators are required to prevent the proliferation of counterfeit telecommunications equipment under the conventions of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), as stipulated by Resolution 79 (Dubai, 2014) of the Telecommunications Standardization Sector of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). It said the court had ignored allegations about Kenya’s obligation to restrain The fight against illegal and counterfeit devices began in 2012 and has continued on many fronts since, CA claims.
The regulator said DMS implementation is still in the stage of developing parameters and forming a committee.
“Contrary to the court’s conclusion, implementation was supposed to be phased to ensure sufficient time for public education and compliance, but had not yet commenced,” Quironzo said. ‘ said.
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