Kenyan Whatsapp Admins Put on Notice Over Hate Speech

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The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) and the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) have put Kenyan Whatsapp admins on notice over hate speech.

By now, we have all come across some sort of hate speech on various social media platforms.

Some statements may have left you with raised eyebrows.

It, therefore, makes sense that the various security agencies have come together to intensify intelligence gathering on Whatsapp groups.

With less than a month to go before the general elections, security agencies seem to be working hard to identify and net Whatapp Groups perpetrating hate.

Speaking during a Mkenya Daima peaceful poll campaign, NCIC chairman Francis Ole Kaparo said that Whatapp admins will be held responsible for messages posted on their group.

Kaparo added that the easiest way to counter hate speech and incitement is to track down Kenyan Whatsapp admins.

He also warned that the government reserves the right to close down the accounts if need be.

But Wait, Exactly What is Hate Speech?

CA is said to have already started doing their job.

They have been monitoring communication gadgets, social media platforms, and mainstream media to crack down any form of hate speech.

But, exactly what is hate speech?

Hare speech, in this context, is any message that could fan the flames of violence. This includes:

  • Messages that could be seen to profile a certain community or one against any groups of persons.
  • Messages that are likely to cause unnecessary anxiety in the build up to the election period.
  • Messages that spread falsehood, rumors, and fake news.

Can They Really Monitor Whatsapp Groups?

Can the CA and NCIC monitor these Whatsapp group without bleaching people’s privacy?

Whatsapp messages are described to have “end-to-end encryption” such that third parties cannot read them.

Whatsapp privacy policy states clearly that they do not retain “…messages in the ordinary course of providing services to you…”

There is a kicker under the ‘Law and Protection Section’ since the following statement can be found:

We may collect, use, preserve, and share your information if we have a good-faith belief that it is reasonably necessary to: (a) respond pursuant to applicable law or regulations, to legal process, or to government requests…

That’s not all:

Whatsapp has a somewhat vague statement in its privacy policy. It reads:

When we share information with third-party providers, we require them to use your information in accordance with our instructions and terms or with express permission from you.

Also, a report released by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) showed that Whatsapp ranks very poorly when it comes to protecting user privacy.

What’s the bottom line?

There is a possibility that CA and NCIC can monitor and perhaps access Whatsapp messages.

In any case, the only way to hold Kenyan Whatsapp admins liable is to first access the messages.

Looking at the Whatsapp privacy policy, this should not be that hard.

Could Whatsapp be in on it?  Maybe, maybe not. Who knows?

In its report, EFF says that Whatsapp has failed to tell users about government requests to access its servers.

This means that we cannot even rely on any response given by Whatsapp on this issue.

New Roles for Kenyan Whatsapp Admins

Whatsapp group admins have very defined roles. They create the group, add group members, re-admit that that “left”, and initiate conversations.

But, CA and NCIC just gave Whatsapp group admins just got a new meaning.

It’s time for them to undertake more serious roles other than re-admitting people who have “left”.

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