The Communications Authority of Kenya is considering a move to regulate online services which is a big move by the regulator.
According to Business Daily, the authority is in search of a consultant to study how these services, also termed as over-the-top services (OTTS) like WhatsApp or Skype could be regulated. The authority will study the outcome and the recommendations from the consultancy and decide what aspects it will implement as part of its mandate.
“Given that providers of OTTS are likely to gather their subscribers data and may not be domiciled in Kenya,” the regulator gave a statement to the publication.
Apparently these new laws would show how these services will comply with requests from security agencies to release data when directed by courts. Currently these OTT services fall into a legal grey area.
This move comes at a time when regulators globally have tried or are trying to assert some measure of control over these services which are being used by their citizens.
Telcos for instance have complained that these services have used their infrastructure to allow users send texts and voice calls, which is something they’ve been offering for a very long time.
This move will be quite interesting to watch as it unfolds in Kenya. Kenyans use OTT services heavily, like approximately 10 million people use WhatsApp every month in this country. Also, WhatsApp encrypts messages end to end and data is stored on people’s phones so this will be a mess to regulate, especially when WhatsApp is told to hand over data.