There was a public outcry when the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) announced that it was going to acquire the controversial Device Management System (DMS).
Now, the statutory regulatory body in charge of licensing and regulating ICT services in Kenya comes in defense in system, citing that the planned installation of the system (it monitors texts and phone calls) is motivated by multiple complaints from our neighbours in Rwanda who have that some Kenyans are making illegal international phone calls to the country.
The Director-General of CA Mr. Francis Wangusi revealed in a court filing that the East African nation aired its grievances about the matter. In principle,Kenyan fraudsters use SIM boxes to cheat telecommunications systems where international calls are disguised as local ones. As a result, operators have lost a substantial amount of revenue.
“The CA has received complaints from its counterparts within the bloc, in particular Rwanda that sim boxing operations in Kenya are being used to terminate international traffic, which seemingly appears to be originating from a Kenyan operator into Rwanda resulting into loss of revenue for the country.”
Interconnect Bypass Fraud, commonly referred to as SIM Box Fraud is an international problem that costs telcos billions of dollars. Simply put, all calls that are made over the Internet pass through SIM boxes, which redirect illegal VoIP traffic into mobile networks. Then, fraudsters use this vulnerability to steer off charging points to take advantage of low retail price for on-network phone calls. Thus, charges paid are in line with what the affected operators charge on local phone calls.
By the way, SIM boxes cost between KES 50,000 to KES 1,000,000.
Now, Mr. Wangusi wants you and me to understand that the DMS will somehow make our neighbours in Rwanda complain less of foxy Kenyans who are milking telcos dry of their hard-earned revenue.
On the other hand, the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) has insisted that the CA’s reasons (them fraudsters) for installing the ‘spying’ system is an ostensible reason that will somehow give them direct access to confidential data in people’s phones, which is against privacy laws.
Based on these complaints, KHRC has sued telcos Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom, in addition to the CA and the Attorney-General, Professor Githu Muigai. Only the AG has responded to the suit, arguing that plans to install the DMS are well-defined in the authority’s mandate.
According to Business Daily, KHRC’s Director, Mr. George Kegoro is wary of the system accessing privileged information for professionals such as doctors, lawyers, to mention a few.
“The system is to be installed and managed by third parties who are not State corporations and who are not bound by rules and statutory provisions on confidentiality and the owners of the (mobile phone) devices will not be privy to the agreements with the contracted company,” says Mr Kegoro.
We will update you about the outcome of these events.