Safaricom objects regulator’s ‘monitoring’ plan

Safaricom objects regulator’s ‘monitoring’ plan
Safari com CEO Bob Collymore, Chairman during full year results release

Listed telecom operator Safaricom has expressed its displeasure and hesitation over plans by the industry regulator to monitor mobile phone use.

This after the Communications Authority (CA) announced it would be installing a monitoring device on all operators’ networks to keep an eye on mobile users who may be engaged in illegal activity and use of counterfeit phones in the country.

However Safaricom has not taken kindly to the move, arguing it amounts to prying on mobile users.

Safaricom Corporate Affairs Director Stephen Chege said the Device Management System (DMS) gives the Communications Authority access to sensitive customer information that could open up serious legal hurdles.

“In our assessment these probes, will replicate the entire network – including voice, SMS and in the case of Safaricom, mobile money, and make this data available to the Communications Authority,” Mr Chege said.

The country woke up to news of the plan by the regulator with most arguing it amounted to spying.

Communications Authority Director General Francis Wangusi however maintains the regulators intentions remain noble.

According to Mr Wangusi, DMS will curb the illegal by-pass and termination of telecommunications traffic, where unscrupulous businessmen have been raking in money offering mobile services.

The system, he adds, will also be able to lock out use of counterfeit phones.

“SIM-boxing, which is used by unscrupulous people to illegally divert and terminate telecommunications traffic, not only poses a security threat but also leads to loss of revenue to both mobile operators and government through evasion of taxes,” Mr Wangusi said.

Safaricom however maintains there needs to be more discussion around the issue to ensure mobile users are not placed at a disadvantage.

“We have registered our strong reservations about this and especially the need to have this system subjected to the relevant public debate as it touches on confidential communications belonging to our customers,” Mr Chege said.

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