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Blow To KRA As Court Dismisses Hacker Case Against Google

Google offices [PHOTO/ COURTESY]

The court of appeal has dismissed an application filed by the Kenya Revenue Authority seeking to compel Google to reveal the identity of hackers who breached its system.

In its ruling, the Court of Appeal threw out the taxman’s suit on grounds that they were late in filing court documents.

KRA filed the petition in 2018 after hackers breached their systems and made off with sensitive data.

KRA sued Google Kenya, Google’s local subsidiary, in a bid to compel them to reveal the identity behind a Gmail account that was alleged to have been involved in the breach.

A few months before the suit against Google, KRA had accused 12 people of hacking their systems causing them to lose Ksh3.9 billion. It is not, however, clear if the two cases were related.

Read: KRA Can Now Pry Your MPESA and Bank Transactions for Tax Compliance

KRA won the initial round and obtained orders to have Google furnish investigators with the required data. However, Google appealed on the grounds that Google LLC, the parent company and Google Kenya were two different entities.

“Google LLC is the sole owner of the domain Gmail.com and administers the emails hosted on the said domain.” Said Google Kenya, in its defense.

They argued that they had no technical capacity to comply with the given orders as they were not in a position to access Google LLC servers, services or products. The high court allowed Google Kenya’s argument prompting KRA to appeal.

Read Also: KRA Can Now Pry Your MPESA and Bank Transactions for Tax Compliance

The court of appeal has however thrown out KRA’s suit citing delays in submitting documents with no adequate explanation.

“There is no evidence that the notice of appeal was served at all,” said the court in its ruling. “Secondly, the statement that the omission was simply ‘inadvertent’ does not explain the delay.”

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Written by Vanessa Murrey

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