Kenyan government will not shut down internet on election date
The Kenyan government says it has no plans to shut down the internet during the August 2022 elections period.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i reiterated the stance while speaking at the launch of the National cybersecurity 2022-2026 strategy workshop.
He termed the act retrogressive.
“We shall not engage in retrogressive acts like shutting the digital space during elections.”
Matiang’i also emphasized the need to invest in cyber security, adding the launched strategy would help in the fight against cyber-crime even though it was a tough call policing cyberspace.
“As we approach elections we shall be dealing with increasing cases of fake news among other things. As a security sector that includes the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF), Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), and National Intelligence Services (NIS), we have built international capacity,” he pointed out.
Matiang’i also assured Kenyans the government will deal with aspects of propaganda among politicians.
This is the second time in a year that Matiang’i is confirming the government’s commitment towards free online speech,
“Kenya’s social media will not be shut down over hate speech. However, we will be very ruthless when it comes to those who interfere with others’ freedoms. We will not hesitate or be intimidated by pressures or complaints from anybody. We will protect Kenya,” he said.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) normally electoral stream results on its website as they trickle in, an exercise that requires internet.
However, countries like Uganda and Tanzania have recently shut down their internet on election day for supposed security purposes.
Nigeria also recently shut down Twitter for close to a year.
In 2021, hours before the general elections in Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni ordered service providers to halt internet access leading to Ugandans going to the polls amid an internet blackout that affected all social media platforms.
And in 2020, former Tanzania president the late John Magufuli ordered a blockage of social media across Tanzania on the eve of the general election date.
Additionally, the Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority (TCRA) ordered telecom companies in the country to suspend bulk SMS and bulk voice communications as well as individual text messages with keywords around the general election.
In Nigeria, the Ministry of Information and Culture announced an indefinite suspension of Twitter operations after the social media platform deleted a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to the bird app, President Buhari had tweeted what was widely perceived as offensive. This was after many Nigerians flagged their President’s tweet and the Twitter said it had violated its policy on abusive behavior.