President Kenyatta Signs Into Law Bill Proposing To Give State Powers To Access Mobile Phones

President Uhuru Kenyatta. /Courtesy

President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday signed into law a Bill that had proposed to give the Interior Cabinet Secretary powers to access mobile phone data from individuals suspected of spying for foreign powers without a court order.

The New Statute Law (Miscellaneous amendments) Bill, 2020 however states that the CS must obtain permission from the court before searching your phone.

The president also signed into law the New Sectional Properties Act,2019 that allows the division of buildings into units granting ownership to individual proprietors.

Read: Failure to Disclose Secret Whatsapp, SMS and Email Messages to the State Could Soon Cost You Sh1 Million Fine

The amendment to the official secrets act sought to allow the Interior CS issue a warrant requiring anyone suspected of being a spy to provide data including text messages, emails, voice calls, Whatsapp messages, photos and videos contained in their mobile phones, computers or tablets.

The suspect will also be expected to provide original transcripts and documents related to the data.

“Any person who fails to comply with a request made under sub-section (1) shall be guilty of an offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year,” reads part of the law.

Read also: UNCTAD Boss Mukhisa Kituyi Distances Himself From Uhuru Succession Politics

Kenyan State operatives have often accused a number of civil society organizations of spying for foreign powers with the intention of  influencing the country’s political course for their own advantage.

Amendments that have been signed into law include the Official Secrets Act, Kenya Roads Board Act, Statistics Act, Employment Act, Accountants Act, Judicial Service Act, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights Act, Employment and Labour Relations Court Act, Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission Act, and the National Police Service Commission Act.

There are additional changes to the Public Appointments (Parliamentary Approval) Act, Universities Act, Kenya Law Reform Commission Act, Investment and Financial Analysts Act, Witness Protection Act and Kenya Coast Guard Act.

Read also: NSO Group, Israeli Company That Opened Your Whatsapp To Gov’t Spies

The Bribery Act was also signed into law. It states that any individual who is aware of a bribery act but fails to report, should be persecuted.

Solicitor General Ken Ogeto presented the Bills to the President for signing at State House, Nairobi. Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi, Attorney General Paul Kihara Kariuki, Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua and State House Deputy Chief of Staff Njee Muturi were present during the signing.

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Written by Vanessa Murrey

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