The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) has taken a case to the Supreme Court of Kenya to stop the installation of the Device Management System (DMS) on mobile networks. The system is set to enable authorities to listen to phone conversations and read messages such as mobile money transactions.
The LSK is not the first party that is faulting the state and the CA about the installation of DMS. Activist Okiya Omtatah filed a complaint with the High Court.
Okiya had argued that the decision to procure and install the system threatened the right to privacy under Article 31, violated consumer rights under Article 46, and violated the right to fair administrative action under Article 47.
However, the CA filed an appeal, for which the High Court judges ruled that the DMS development was at its infant stage, hence the case stood no grounds at that time.
It should be remembered that the exercise to install DMS started in 2016.
According to the CA and people involved with the project, DMS is presented as a system that should combat counterfeit and illegal devices. Its action plan is by accessing mobile numbers, locations, and call records.
Third [arty institutions can also have access to DMS.
The main issue that has far been raised is about privacy, consumer rights, confidentiality and data security because these are important rights in the information age.
Further issues started to come up with the ICT regulator started directing mobile phone operators to install the system without looking into the above issues.
In fact, the CA did not involve the public as it has been the case in other legislations.
To this end, the LSK thinks that the privacy of Kenyans is threatened.
Furthermore, the CA did not follow the definitions set forth by the Statutory Instrument Act, 2013 that tasks the Authority to conduct a regulatory impact assessment and presenting it to parliament.
The LSK stands by its appeal because it has a legal backing to ‘uphold the Constitution of Kenya and to advance the rule of law and administration of justice.’
The first respondent is the CA.
The second ins the Broadband Communications Networks Limited that was contracted to complete the DMS project.
Others include the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), CS for ICT, the AG, carriers Telkom Kenya, Safaricom and Airtel, among others.