The High court has suspended a decision by the Kenyan government and the Communication Authority to install tapping devices on mobile phones.
Justice John Mativo made the decision on Monday saying that the Communication Authority, or any person claiming to be its agent, will not enforce the decision.
”Pending hearing and determination of the case, a temporary order is hereby issued to the respondents prohibiting them, whether by themselves or any of their employees or agents or any other persons claiming to act under their authority, from proceeding to give effect in any way whatsoever to the Communication Authority of Kenya two letters dated 31st January 2017 and 6th February 2017, both references as CA/LCS/1600/Counterfeit Devices/Vol.11.”
He then directed all the parties involved to appear for an inter-party hearing on the 6th of March this year.
The Communication Authority of Kenya had ordered mobile phone companies Safaricom, Airtel and Orange Telecom Kenya to allow them tap into their computers with a device known as a black box.
The ‘black box’ is said to be copying all the data in the telecom companies computers and then transferring them to another database in the CA head office.
The government will then be able to access the texts and phone calls of each individual.
The petition against the Communication Authority was filed by Activist Okiya Omutata who argued that the requests violated the constitution.
The petition filed read:
”The respondents have threatened Article 31 of the Constitution of Kenya by setting into motion a mechanism that will interfere with the right to freedom of conscience, religion, thought, belief and opinion.”
The right to privacy is entrenched in the constitution and should not be limited without reference to Article 24 of the constitution, Omutata said.
Phone tapping can only be allowed by the government in certain cases and only when it is guaranteed by a court order.
These certain cases may involve counter-terrorism or national security.