Safaricom Refuses to Install Kenya’s Communications Authority Device Management System

CA Kenya

CA Kenya

A few weeks ago, the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) explained why it wants the Device Management System (DMS) installed – and the reason was to meet Rwanda’s call to stop illegal international calls originating from Kenya. It was also mentioned that some Kenyans have access to SIM boxes to terminate international traffic, resulting in revenue loss for the country.

It turns out that the ICT regulator is faced with another set of stumbling blocks, in addition to the public outcry that CA had acquired the DMS to spy on mobile phone users by collecting texts, voice and data from devices. The latest setback is Safaricom’s rejection to install the device because it believes that it is highly probable that third parties may have access to calls and sensitive text messages such as financial details.

According to the Business Daily, operator Safaricom and CA have gone through the matter for months but Safaricom’s rejection of the proposal is a clear indicator that the two parties have not amicably agreed on the intricacies of the DMS. Specifically, Safaricom has pointed out that the ICT watchdog has not addressed some concerns over that period. Additionally, the carrier believes that installation of the device will be detrimental to its business by scaring customers away for fear of being listened to.

“The effect is that our subscribers shall desist or reduce using their devices, in effect reversing the progress we have made in making communication easier for our subscribers,” Safaricom says.

The CA is still resolute about the DMS, citing that it is not a snooping device. Its reasons are the same as before – get rid of counterfeit devices such as fake phones and SIM boxes that disguise international calls.

What’s more, Safaricom makes a point by holding that the ICT statutory body’s heedlessness about its questions concerning the installation of the DMS goes against the legal provisions that call for a public debate owing to possible infringement of people’s right to privacy.

It is worth remembering that other operators, including Telkom Kenya and Airtel Kenya were equally asked by the CA to have the device in place. While we have not established their stand, Safaricom’s resistance to CA’s demands may be motivated by its market share that stands at 71.9 per cent according to Sector Statistics Third Quarter 2016/17 FY Report.

For the moment, no installation will be done until the court mentions the case on September 20.


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