Data Privacy Day 2020: 4 Good Things in Kenya’s Data Protection Act, 2019

Photo by Lukas Blazek on Unsplash

By Francis Monyango.

Today is the 28th of January. Data Protection Day or Privacy Day. The day when we all commemorate the 1981 signing of the Council of Europe’s Convention 108 for the Protection of Individuals with regard to automatic processing of personal data, quite a mouthful.

While it is was initially a European celebration, data privacy is now a global issue and we now have a reason to celebrate Data Protection Day in Kenya. The Kenyan Data Protection Bill assented to the law on the 8th of November, 2019 and its date of commencement was on the 25th of November, 2019. This is Kenya’s first data protection law, promulgated 9 years later after the Constitution which enshrines the right to privacy in Article 31. The Data Protection Act law gives effect to article 31(c) and (d) which recognize the people’s right to informational privacy. 

In recent times, privacy concerns among Kenyans have included the arbitrary misuse of personal information, unsolicited marketing messages by entities and the need for identification at entrances of buildings. Therefore, on this auspicious Data Protection Day, we want to highlight 4 good things in the Data Protection Act.

Gives people control

The Data Protection law came with new names and rights for people. The Act defines Data subject as a natural person whose personal information is processed. The rights in the Act include the right to be informed on the use of their data and the right to access their data which is in custody of the data controller or processor. Other data subject rights include the right to object to the processing of their data, the right to correction and the deletion of false or misleading data about them. 

Data subjects are supposed to give informed consent to data processing. For them to give informed consent, they need to understand all privacy-related agreements which means these agreements have to be written in plain language. With informed consent, a data subject can know which types of data processing they can opt-in and out of.

Independent Data Commissioner

Another goodie in the Data Protection Act is the office of the Data Protection Commissioner. (It is yet to be set up but it is a huge leap to accountability). This commissioner will oversee the implementation of the Data Protection Act and its enforcement. The Data Commissioner will have to establish and maintain a register of data controllers and processors and exercise oversight on their data processing operations. Sometimes the Data Commissioner may have to conduct an assessment on a public or private body on its own initiative or at the request of a private or public body. Because of the nature of the role, we hope the Data Commissioner will be independent. The Commissioner will also be required to investigate complaints from any person on infringements of the Act and action taken.

Obligations to Data Controllers and Processors

The Data Protection Act christens entities that collect and use personal information data controllers and processors. These two entities now have new obligations. They are required to ensure that personal data is processed in accordance with the right to privacy of the data subject. The data processing has to be lawful, transparent and limited to what is necessary. Data processors and controllers are supposed to collect data for explicit, specified and legitimate purposes. The processing should not be incompatible with the agreed purposes. 

The Act prohibits data transfer outside Kenya unless there is proof of adequate data protection safeguards or consent from the data subject. Other duties are to keep the data anonymous and to exercise privacy by design in their data processing systems. The Act requires entities to be transparent and accountable in their privacy practices and in the unfortunate event of a breach. In the event of a breach, data handlers must do their best to contain the harm, give appropriate support to help those affected, and ensure timely notification of any violations to the Data Commissioner. 

Works Globally

The world is now a global village that is connected and the Act is not rigid in its requirements for cross border data transfer. A data controller or processor is allowed to transfer personal data to another country only where they have proved to the Data Commissioner the other country has appropriate security and data protection safeguards. For the processing of sensitive personal data outside Kenya, this was to be after obtaining the consent of the data subject and confirmation of appropriate safeguards in the destined nation.

This section initially required data controllers and processors to get consent from every data subject but Members of Parliament during legislation felt it would be ambiguous for an entity like the electoral body with servers outside Kenya to get consent from every voter, hence delegating the role to the Data Commissioner. This section enables interoperability between different jurisdictions while protecting the privacy of personal information without undermining the Internet’s global nature.

There are many other good things in the Act that I have not mentioned. However, I have to acknowledge that the law was drafted collaboratively, in the spirit of public participation. Stakeholders such as KICTANet, CIPIT, Article 19, KEPSA gave their views and the National Assembly ICT Committee considered all their points in the report that they tabled in parliament during the legislation.

The next big challenge is the implementation of the law. Will 2020 be a decade of privacy compliance by Kenyan entities? Will we celebrate Data Protection Day 2021 with a Kenyan Data Commissioner? Only time will tell.

Artificial Intelligence at KeSIG

Artificial Intelligence

By Margaret Nyambura.

Artificial intelligence that is popularly known as “AI’’is one of the topic that we had during the 2019 Kenya School of Internet Governance. The Artificial Intelligence technology is here to stay and no longer a thing of the past. What started as a research project on how AI works, has now become a global trend of transitioning from manual way of solving complex issues and especially those to do data entry and processing that is collected by big multinational companies such as Facebook, Huawei, and Safaricom . The components of AI are data, Algorithms, outputs, decisions, and training.

The use of AI has now become so important in sectors such as agriculture where drones are being used in monitoring the weather patterns, and gathering data. However there is a need to come up with policies and laws that help regulate AI. This data is later used in research work. Some Government organisations such as Kenya Bureau of Statistics collects data over a period of time to help in planning for infrastructure, health care services, and education among other areas. The use of AI while collecting data ensures that it is done on time, and it is factual in  determining the population growth of citizens over a period of time. AI systems feeds on data.

Here in Kenya, companies such as Safaricom are using AI technology in engaging the youth. The AI application chatbox by Safaricom called ‘’Zuri’’ help customers perform a wide range of tasks. This could replace some customer care services roles that are normally conducted by people.

Zuri can be able to handle over 17 million Safaricom customers and is able to perform tasks like manage subscription services including viewing subscriptions and unsubscribing from chargeable SMS services.  Zuri can handle other roles that includes the M-PESA reversals, buying bundles, airtime top up and checking M-PESA and airtime balances.

Safaricom was the first telecommunication company to create ZURI chatbot software that can simulate a conversation or a chat with a user in a natural language through messaging, websites, mobile apps or even through the phone.

A chatbot has often been described as one of the most advanced and promising expressions of interaction between humans and machines. That’s why they’re very important in the customer’s journey. In fact, according to Gartner, by 2020 chatbots will be handling no less than 85% of all customer service interactions, so this tells you how Safaricom’s Zuri and any other chatbot are important at this day and age.

Multinational companies such as IBM are now using AI for medical imaging known as Watson Health that is helping to create meaningful change in the health sector with over 15,000 clients and partners. Some of these health conditions would have been difficult to diagnose without the use of AI. The current statistics state that more than 295,000 patients have been affected by Watson Health.  99% of the data is recorded through artificial intelligence.

What we should know as digital technology users is that a lot is going to change in the coming years on how we shall be using AI in medicine, banking, and automobile sector and how AI shall be utilized in addressing complex issues.

AI technology has its own challenges and biases for instance, research has shown that Self-driving cars more likely to drive into black people. Another challenge could be that the older generation might find it hard to grasp the emerging technologies such as AI as the saying goes, ‘’It is difficult to change old people but can only convince them with working ideas.’’

Margaret Mwangi is a Media and communication Specialist who has gained experience in radio production, videography, photo editing and article writing the last 16 years. She has worked for both TV and Radio as a news reporter, a translator of news from English to Kiswahili, a radio producer, as a TV production assistant in various media houses which include Royal media services, Family media, Radio Mama 107.1 FM and GBS TV. She has also been a freelance writer for Association of Media Women in Kenya publications such as ‘’ The Dawn, Inuka, 86 And Counting’’ among other. She is currently a contributing writer and a photographer for Mkazi which is an online publication.
Twitter: @maggieezbon
LinkedIn: Margaret Mwangi

Kenya IGF week 2019

The Kenya IGF week shall be held from 29th July to 1st August 2019 at the Panafric Hotel, in Nairobi.

The IGF week has a series of activities including the Kenya School of Internet Governance (KeSIG), policy briefs dissemination workshops, and culminates in the flagship Kenya Internet Governance Forum.

Kenya School of Internet Governance (KeSIG)

KeSIG has grown to be among KICTANet’s flagship programmes, and its success has not been only in bringing in new voices but also encouraging those whose work has been disrupted by the internet to understand and contribute to internet policy making processes. In its 4th edition, KeSIG deliberately targets law enforcement officers, civil society organisation officers, traditional and new media practitioners, the tech community and academics. Its aim remains to build capacity for local and global internet governance by leveraging on existing policy advocates from areas such as media, human rights, devolved government and law enforcement and adding new voices Areas to be covered in the training include: introduction and main issues in internet governance; internet governance processes and how to get involved; and Kenya’s internet governance frameworks. The faculty is sourced from local and African actors such as the regulators, the executive, civil society leaders , digital rights activists, lawyers and technical community.

KeSIG’s mission is to increase capacity of key actors and potential actors in the local internet governance space. These include traditional human rights defenders and civil society organisations, students, academia, tech community and government departments. These actors are also commissioned to participate in international internet policy making for a thereby contributing African perspectives in global debates.

Kenya IGF

The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is an open and inclusive multi-stakeholder forum where public policy issues related to key elements of Internet governance issues, such as the Internet’s sustainability, robustness, security, stability and development. The United Nations Secretary-General formally announced the establishment of the IGF in July 2006 and the first meeting was convened in October 2006.

The purpose of the IGF is to maximize the opportunity for open and inclusive dialogue and the exchange of ideas on Internet Governance (IG) related issues; create opportunities to share best practices and experiences; identify emerging issues and bring them to the attention of the relevant bodies and the general public; and contribute to capacity building for Internet governance. 

The event brings together stakeholders representing government, the private sector, civil society, the technical and academic community, and the public in an informal setting for policy dialogue on Internet governance issues on an equal basis through an open and inclusive process. This type of cooperative engagement is usually referred to as the multistakeholder model of Internet Governance, which is one of the key features for the Internet’s success. This model is paramount to ensure that the Internet remains sustainable for economic and social development.

The forums are localised and their outcomes feed into each other from country to the global level. The outcomes of the country level (Kenya IGF) feed into the regional level (East Africa IGF), continental level (Africa IGF) and ultimately at the global level (IGF). Previously, Kenya hosted the East Africa IGF in 2009 and thereafter, the global IGF in 2011 in Nairobi. 

This year, the 14th Annual Global IGF Meeting convened by the United Nations, will be hosted by the Government of Germany and is scheduled to take place from 25 – 29 November 2019 in Berlin.

Side events: Policy briefs dissemination workshops

Several side events will be held during the IGF week. One of them will be the policy brief on Regulation OTTs – the challenges and recommendations.

More to follow …

Call for topics – KeIGF 2019

he Kenya Internet Governance Forum (KIGF) is an annual meeting that brings together various stakeholder groups to dialogue on ICT and Internet policy. While the discussions give soft policy outcomes, KIGF is a knowledge sharing platform that informs and inspires policy actors in both the public and private sectors. The national forum also feeds into the regional and global IGFs through a chain of reporting and representation to the regional and global IGFs to ensure a bottom-up Internet policy development processes and a strong link between global internet policies and the national one. 

This year’s event shall be held on 1 August 2018 in Nairobi. Kindly save the date. Details of the venue and other logistics will be communicated in the coming days.  

On behalf of the local Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG), we’d be interested to hear your views on the issues and topics that you think ought to be discussed during this year’s Kenya IGF. We have 3 themes in line with the Global IGF 2019 Themes i.e. Data Governance; Digital Inclusion; and, Security, Safety, Stability and Resilience.

Kindly share your input in this Google Form. We’ll be happy to receive your feedback by Sunday, 7 July, 2019. 
We shall then compile your input and prepare the topics for the pre-IGF online discussion in the coming weeks and the final IGF Programme. 

Call for Volunteers for the 2019 Kenya IGF MAG

KICTANet wishes to invite volunteers from the different stakeholder groups to assist in the preparation of the Kenya Internet Governance Forum (KIGF) 2019, which will be held on Thursday, 1 August 2019. 

The Kenya Internet Governance Forum (KIGF) is an annual meeting that brings together various stakeholder groups to dialogue on ICT and Internet policy. The Steering Team otherwise known as the Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG) role is to assist in convening the Kenya IGF by preparing the programme and schedule and to improve the IGF process through community consultations, outreach and stakeholder engagement. MAG members volunteer and serve in their personal capacity, and are expected to have established linkages with their respective stakeholder groups. Please review the MAG TOR.

To express interest, please send an email to with the subject line “Kenya IGF 2019 MAG” indicating your stakeholder group, expertise and why you are interested in joining the steering committee of KIGF 2019 by Tuesday, June 25 2019. 

Membership to the steering team is voluntary and all materials produced by KICTANet are published under creative commons licenses. Organisations from various stakeholder groups are encouraged to nominate representatives.

Call for volunteers for 2019 KeSIG steering committee

KICTANet wishes to invite volunteers to the steering committee of the 2019 Kenya School of Internet Governance (KeSIG). Now in its fourth edition, KeSIG takes place prior to the Kenya IGF, with the aim of introducing beginners in internet governance to basic concepts in internet policy making. This is with the goal of creating and increasing the available expertise for participation in local and global internet governance processes. 

KeSIG is slotted for 29th to 31st July 2019. 

Please write to, with the subject 2019 KeSIG steering committee if interested in collaboratively organising the school, explaining your interest. Membership to the team is on volunteer basis and we aim to have representation of diverse groups.

Find more information on KeSIG here. 
KeSIG Steering Team TORs 


Written by Mwara Gichanga

Kenya’s financial sector is on the brink of yet another sweeping revolution that will define the playing field in the next decades to come: financial technology.

Fintech, as it is increasingly being referred to, is taking the industry by storm, causing a major disruption becoming a trailblazer and redefining the financial sector in the nationally, region and globally.

In this day of fast paced technological innovations, disruption is the new norm: Uber, Pesalink and M-PESA are all good examples of what technology can do to reconfigure the way we live.

Eric and Francis both agree that the Kenyan Business Environment is certainly conducive for Fintech as Disruption as it turns out, is as much a form of social evolution as it is of technological improvements, internet penetration levels are really high compared to other African states which gives Kenya a great advantage for mobile money transfer.

Banks incorporating FinTech to their solutions

The Banking sector is  actually at the fore front of integrating financial technology into their systems, with the introduction of Pesalink which is a money transfer service from a local Kenya Shillings bank account to another local Kenya Shillings bank account in real-time. It is a collaboration between all local banks who are members of the Kenya Bankers Association (KBA) and is managed by Integrated Payment Services Limited (IPSL) which is a subsidiary of KBA. PesaLink is real-time, available 24/7 and you can transfer from as low as KES 10 to as high as KES. 999,999. It is also safe since it eliminates the use of cash as a mode of payment.

With this high rate of adoption of digital financing in Kenya is considered among the highest in Africa. Kenya is now recognized as the home of mobile money, reaping the benefits that come along with it.

But with this subsequent growth, risk is invertible and questions have to be asked especially those that enable and frame policy that will foster growth in this sector.

A new law needs to be enacted yesterday to enable Africa’s first virtual bank to be born in Kenya. Not Nigeria. Not South Africa. This is the birth place of Mpesa for crying out loud! Where we account for 10% of all global mobile money transactions! Yet we have a policy and regulatory regime that is still steeped in the physical cash economy.


We need to consolidate our gains by opening up the policy and regulatory framework to make it easy and fast to move to the next phase of this Fintech Innovation.’’ AliHussein

Will block chain technology affect the market?

The transformation of the financial services industry is top-of-mind for everyone in the field and blockchain might be the hottest topic in the rapidly changing world of Fintech. But how can this technology really help financial firms? This report from World Economic Forum takes a pragmatic approach to answering this question.


Concerns over bitcoin and its underlying technology

Crypto currencies such as bitcoin have started being hyped by block chain enthusiasts. However, the moment CBK will recognise it, its true effect will be seen. Francis Monyango

Similar sentiments were shared by Eric Mwangi who argued that in every conversation it is said that “Bitcoin is here and will change everything”. He continued to explain that what all those Crypto-pundits fail to remember or read about is at the beginning of the boom there were Netscape, Yahoo, AOL, Lycos Alsta Vista etc. the outcome yielded different winners: Amazon Google, Salesforce etc.

Again, as with there is something the larger public don’t understand. While the media mulls over Bitcoin and and gives credence to a slew of people proclaiming a “decentralised network that no one will own” to a naive public and convincing them to dump millions into “ICO”, there is something else happening. Consider FAAMG (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Google) do you think it’s a coincidence they are major deployments for many Blockchain networks?

As with previous games the winners are already taking in massive rewards because they are already hooked into an existing IT and Banking Infrastructure. Currently investments are only flowing into Blockchain infrastructure that must be enterprise grade. Same as the Internet didn’t make IT departments irrelevant, Blockchain will not replace IT departments. What will change is the speed and types of skillset needed in it. There will be no immediate shift to everything Blockchain – there will be long periods of co-existing and integration with existing IT systems. However Blockchain will lead to a strong surge in cloud adoption.

The consequence of Blockchain among consumers will be most felt in Infrastructure were developments relating to Identity, Privacy and Security are taking shape.




Highlights: Facebook Open house Ke

Written by Mwara Gichanga

As the world’s biggest social network, Facebook has held a contentious place in the ongoing debate about what role social media is playing in how information is spread around the world today. The norm is that more conversations has moved online and with that a lot of hateful, ugly and false information as well. Facebook has therefore taken responsibility to counter attack content that is unwarranted by creating a platform dubbed hard questions to encourage community reporting so as help the platform  flag down such content.

Facebook in conjunction with The Kenya ICT Action Network(KICTANET) brought the conversation home by organizing an open house at Villa Rossa Kempisnski Nairobi, to spark conversation about Facebook’s role in reporting and flagging down content that is considered hate speech and one that is false and incites violence, especially now that Kenya is approaching the elections. With the hashtag of event agreedupon through public participation #OpenHouseKE

The event saw the CS of ICT Joe Mucheru joining in on this critical conversations as questions on what his ministry is doing to cub the issues of cyberbullying and fake news, the CS was careful to point out the importance on person online responsibility and further encouraging that action starts with the mwananchi taking initiative on reporting on such cases on social media platforms like Facebook, giving an example of Mutahi Ngunyi’s Youtube channel which the CS thinks should be taken down as it crosses the line of freedom of expression and hate speech.

Ebele OkobiHead of Public Policy in Africa highlighted the importance of community reporting, as Facebook has 2 billion users and only a fraction of that population report cases of , Ebele continued by explaining that FB content regulation is global, there are no rules for specific countriestherefore the company announced a new plan to add 3,000 more people to its operations  to the additional 4,500 to be able to screen for harmful videos and other posts so as to respond to them more quickly in the future.

One of the more prominent question at the open house was issues of context and intent measure when it comes to what content gets pulled down and Ebele explained that figuring out what constitutes hate speech and what should be removed is the largest challenge Facebook faces. Sometimes it’s appallingly obvious when hate speech is just that and there sometimes, there isn’t a clear consensus because the words themselves are ambiguous, the intent behind them is unknown or the context around them is unclear.  So, in order to figure out what actually is hate speech, the company looks at context and intent before taking action and works with growing public policy support together with the community to establish the ever evolving intent in content.

Facebook is working with local groups in Kenya such as Article 19, calling the working group Trust Flags to pick out serial reporters and also help Facebook understand context.

On Fakes News Ebele spoke on media houses and bloggers working on ethical credibility on news or information shared and their responsibility to the  public by promoting education  on news literacy.

The issues were too broad to cover at the limited time at the open house but as pointed out by Grace Githiaga a co-convener at KICTANET the conversation still continues on the KICTANET mailing list, so that the public is able interact with Facebook and have a deeper know how on applying the laws that govern us offline do the same online.




Cyber-bullying: Highlights of KIGF 2017 Online discussions

Article written by Mwara Gichanga

As the online discussions carried on throughout the week, online/cyber-bullying also came up as point of discussion especially in this digital era where most conversations have moved from offline to online platforms.

To grasp the gravity of the issues concerning online bullying we must first understand what it is.

Ronald Ojino described Cyber-bullying as any form of bullying which takes place online and is available on a range of platforms including new interactive apps, games consoles, social networks etc. where most young people spend their time.

What are the Trends?

Statistics show that 87% of today’s youth have witnessed cyberbullying (mcfeeintel security) and nearly 69% have experienced it, 41% of that being Girls while 28% Boys (cyber-bullying research centre)

‘’ In regards to online bullying neither us nor our children are safe. There have recently been deaths directly attributable to cyber bullying where a lady committed suicide and online crime waves like the Blue Whale Challenge.’’ Rosemary Koech

One of the now evolving trends of cyber bullying is the term dimmed ‘Revenge Porn’ and Francis explained it as when a victims private information in form of images or conversations are exposed to the public through social media platforms after a disagreement. An example is Kimindiri and Roshanara Ebrahim. In the case of Roshanara Ebrahim V Ashley Kenya Limited & 3 others (2016), the High Court found that her ex-boyfriend had breached her right to privacy under Article 31 (c). For the breach, the court asked him to pay Ksh. 1 million.

Challenges tackling the offense?

In regards to capacity there is need to invest heavily in cybercrime units in the police force and generally have operations digitized so that our forces are equipped to deal with the new frontier for crime.

One of the main challenges in tackling the offense are finding the main perpetrators, like in instances of mass cyber bullying where stories go viral in various channels, it may be impossible to even know the person who originally posted.’’ Rosemary Koech


What should be done to address this offense?

Kenya Information and Communication Act CAP 411A has not addressed cyber-bullying as an offense, perhaps it’s time the Kenyan government considers revising the statute books to legislate against cyber-bullying to encourage a conducive environment for all online user. Once the section is amended, agencies such as the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) and the Kenya Police should take the lead in creating awareness about cyber-bullying and how to respond to it.

Mildred, Rosemary and Ronald suggested that Charity begins at home and so does bullying. Bullies are created, not born, so the family situation also needs to be addressed. Parents and teachers should have access to tools that can be used to monitor their children’s online activities.

Working with social media platforms such as Facebook to able to flag down abusive/ victimizing content from users, is also a way to stop cyberbullying content/language at its source.


Open issues to be addressed.

Is bullying gloried in Kenyan TV shows and songs?

Should criminal law be used to curb cyber bullying?

This is Internet censorship through the back door

Article Written by Mr. John Walubengo.

Last week, the Communications Authority of Kenya published draft regulations on the use of social media for political messaging in collaboration with the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC).

The regulations have two components – one on bulk SMS and the other specifically for social media use within the context of political messaging.

The regulations on bulk SMS are actually the second edition. The first edition was gazetted as we went to the polls in 2013 in a clear effort to avoid a repeat of the post-election violence we witnessed after the 2007 general elections.

Bulk SMS involves content service providers (CSP) who buy airtime in bulk from mobile operators in order to resell it to clients, such as political parties, which may wish to send out thousands of SMS or audio messages to their supporters.


Such mass messages may pose a threat to public order, depending on their intent and construction. The proposed regulations are therefore an attempt to curb or contain such political messages before they cause harm to public order. Section 5.3 says:

Political Messages shall not contain offensive, abusive, insulting, misleading, confusing, obscene or profane language.

And section 5.4 emphasizes this further as:

Political Messages shall not contain inciting, threatening or discriminatory language that may, or is intended to, expose an individual or group of individuals to violence, hatred, hostility, discrimination or ridicule on the basis of ethnicity, tribe, race, color, religion, gender, disability or otherwise

Essentially, CPS and mobile operators are obligated to vet political messages to ensure they meet the regulatory expectations above or they would be held liable by both commissions for failing to curb purportedly dangerous messages.

There is nothing very new in the revised bulk SMS regulation except for section 6.2, which now restricts the time for sending out political bulk messages to between 8:00am and 6pm. In addition, section 7.0 also restricts the languages that can be used to only English or Kiswahili.

The time and language restrictions are likely to be contentious, since they betray the inability of our security agencies to take care of us at night as well their inability to decipher all or some of the 42 languages spoken in Kenya.

Either way, the two commissions seem to realise that most political messaging is happening outside the control of mobile operators – through social media sites such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Telegram and Twitter, and hence the addition of a whole page dedicated to controlling social media messaging.


Whereas the clauses may be well-intentioned, there are issues of conflict with constitutional provisions for freedom of expression, as well as the capacity to enforce the regulations. For example, section 2.2 under social media regulations says:

All comments shall be polite, truthful and respectful.

So who will judge what is polite, truthful or respectful? Last time I checked, politicians, particularly in Kenya, are not particularly polite, truthful or respectful and nothing has been done to them.

So how come we are now more interested in those blogging about it, but not those initiating the hatred? Section 2.3 makes it worse by saying:

It shall be the responsibility of the Administrator of the social media platform to moderate and control the content and discussions generated on their platform

Now, how on earth is the administrator supposed to do this? Some social media platforms contain thousands of users and it is just not feasible to control what the users say – unless you censor every post before it pops up on the social

media platform.

This basically makes you a State gatekeeper without the benefit of the huge budgets enjoyed by the many commissions and state agencies charged with the duty of ensuring a cohesive society.


In any case, even if the administrators had the time, money and resources to police the blogosphere, they would realise most sites support encrypted and anonymous posts that make it virtually impossible to identify culprits.

In other cases, culprits have no problem being identified since they live comfortably abroad, where censorship laws are less oppressive and more in favor of freedom of expression.

For sure, the Kenyan blogosphere is full of hate and tribal venom that need to be toned down. But we must be careful not to adopt regulations that would set a precedent that may take us down the memory lane of the Nyayo-era oppressive regime.

A better approach to hate speech and incitement online should be reviewed in light of Article 19’s practical guide to dealing with such cases using their six-part test.

Remember, these regulations, if adopted, will apply beyond the election period, when the threat to public order would no longer apply. What chilling effect would they have on freedom of expression and association?

This article was first published on the Nation Media Website . Mr Walubengo is a KICTANet associate and a lecturer at Multimedia University of Kenya, Faculty of Computing and IT. Email:, Twitter: @jwalu

The Kenya ICT Action Network is a Multi-stakeholder platform for people and institutions interested and involded in ICT policy and regulation. The network aims to act as a catalyst for reform in the ICT sector in support of the national aim of ICT enabled growth and development.