Reports appearing in Kenya’s Standard newspaper indicates that the country’s Political Parties Liaison Committee has accused some political party officials of harvesting possible party member details from mobile money dealers.
Since M-Pesa is the most widely used mobile money service in Kenya, its likely to be the most affected by these data crimes. M-Pesa has over 30,000 agents and 15.6 Million users in Kenya. Such number of readily available database is very enticing to interested parties. Some premium rate services providers also holds databases with more than even 5 million personal details including mobile phone numbers.
These databases are always abused by political activists who will find it easy to send political messages during the election campaigns. Some of the messages border on hate. Tracking such messages would not be easy since there are very easy to get web tools which can be used to mask the details of the messages originator.
Kenya Political Parties Act demand that the parties attain a certain membership threshold for them to qualify as participants in the coming general elections. The party officials are looking to go round these regulations by harvesting details of possible members from Premium SMS Services and Mobile Money services dealers.
Political Parties Liaison Committee chairman, Nderitu Gachagua, is reported to have said that they had received complaints about some officials who were allegedly using the methods to register members to comply with the new Political Parties Act.
The allegations are not surprising looking back at what has been happening and the fact that there are no data privacy laws which will be used to back laws like Political Parties Act. The PPA is a weak regulation which cannot be effectively used to pin down data miners.