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Ambitious Political Candidates Desperate to Clear Digital Footprints Spending Millions to Pay Hackers, Bloggers

Kenyans could have their next general election in 2022 if all goes according to the regular calendar. As the period approaches, campaigns are heating up despite the Covid-19 pandemic which has slowed the world order. Social media has become a powerful tool in the run-up to elections. This has seen a number of politicians hire communications specialists who tweet and draft social media posts just to keep their followers engaged. Unfortunately, mainstream media may not be as easy to manipulate.

Word is, a number of politicians desperate to clear their digital footprints are now going to great lengths to delete any unfavourable content about them online.

This is occasioned by the intensive integrity scrutiny that the personnel seeking elective or administrative government jobs are subjected to. If you have watched the vetting processes on TV, you may notice that the interviewers sometimes come armed with damning allegations sourced from the interwebs. Election period is also very competitive in Kenya. Just last week, two top politicians seeking top leadership were subjected to embarassing episodes online after their side-chicks decided to hang them out to dry.

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It is now emerging that a number of ambitious personalities are willing to part with as much as Sh2 million to erase all these negative data about them. If you are an internet guru, you know this is no easy fit. The first way to do it, is to ask a hacker, another way, is to contact the web administrator and request them to pull down the negative story, third is to petition Google to drop the data from their search engines and the last resort involves going to court and obtaining a court order to have the content deleted.

As you can see, all these are quite tedious. And reports indicate that Kenyans are either going for the first or second options.

A politician in Murang’a county is reported to be under the Directorate of Criminal Investigation’s (DCI) radar after it was established that he was making contacts to help erase corruption reports about him.

‘We got wind that the male politician has been recruiting people to hack into websites of several media houses, those of bloggers and DCI. His intention is to have his profiled corruption cases in court deleted from the websites.” John Kanda, Gatanga DCI boss said while speaking to the Nation.

Mr. Kanda said that hacking is a criminal offense.

Most of these high profile jobs require the candidates to obtain a certificate of good conduct and clearance from the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission (EACC)

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Mr. Kanda also said that a number of bloggers were cashing in from the candidates who are keen to have their data erased. He said the DCI had no role in a situation where the web admin was being compromised and agreed to pull down information.

“In most cases, these people are approaching the authorized website administrators as well as the blog owners. They then pay to have the information pulled down. Under such circumstances, where the publisher is the one who has been compromised to pull down the information, there is very little we can do. But should we get word that the disappearance of the information through hacking the systems hence unauthorized access, certainly we will go after the culprits.” he added.

An advocate also reported that a number of high profile personalities had been flocking to his office seeking ways of deleting dam,ning reports published online.

“The most sought advice is how to remove negative footprints on the web and how to cleanse them from the judiciary so as to qualify for award of certificate of good conduct. And the advice is very simple, approach the publishers of the website and negotiate. If the articles are defamatory, we can sue and pray for orders to have them pulled down.” an advocate of the High Court, Timoth Kariuki, who is based in Murang’a said.

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Written by Vanessa Murrey

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