A Review of the Communications Authority Guidelines for Dissemination of Political SMS Text Messages and Social Media Content

By Francis Monyango**

In the run-up to the 2013 elections, Safaricom announced that it would control political messaging distributed via its network. This measure was put in place to avoid unnecessary attacks on individuals, their families and ethnic communities. The giant mobile network operator wanted to ensure that the bulk political SMS sent through its platform would not fall foul of the laws of Kenya. By publishing its own guidelines on bulk SMS of a political nature, Safaricom was working within its legal boundaries of leverage. This move was inspired by the Electoral Code of Conduct, which was part of the 2011 Elections Act that specifically prohibited hate speech in political campaigns. These guidelines were met by furor from the political class but the media peace campaigns drowned their voices.

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Recap: Day 2 of JKUAT Conference on Protection of Intellectual Property Rights

Editor’s Note: For a recap of Day 1, please see here.

The final day of the #JKUATLawIP conference was kicked off by Shirley Genga, a law lecturer at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), who spoke on protecting intellectual property rights in big data with a focus on Kenya. Genga noted that in the absence of any formal legal regime for big data, the existing laws of contract as well as copyright protection will have to suffice. For a discussion of the question of IP and database rights protection, please see this blogger’s post here. Next up was James Tugee from Hamilton, Harrison & Mathews, Advocates who made a case for legislation of the right to publicity in Kenya.

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Treatment of Cyberbullying in Kenya’s new Computer and Cybercrimes Act

By Rosine Mumanya**

Cyberbullying in Kenya is an issue that can no longer be ignored. In the digital age, some argue that not enough attention is given to this issue, until social media users who are victims of cyberbulling end up hurting themselves or even taking their own lives. In the fight against all forms of cybercrime including cyber-bullying, Kenya has been working on the Computer and Cybercrimes Bill of 2016 which was enacted in April 2017. An overview of the Bill was published previously on this blog here.

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Recap: Day 1 of JKUAT Conference on Protection of Intellectual Property Rights

Nestled in the leafy suburbs of Karen lies Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) School of Law on the outskirts of Nairobi. On this chilly Thursday morning of 13th July 2017, JKUAT School of Law was making history: it’s first ever law conference! The theme chosen for this inaugural conference was: “Protecting Intellectual Property Rights: Justifications, Prospects and Challenges” (the official twitter hashtag for the conference is #JKUATLawIP). In the midst of this blogger’s moment of deja-vu over CIPIT’s inaugural conference way back in 2012, the JKUAT Management kicked off the conference with welcoming remarks that immediately began to raise eyebrows.

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Big Data and Microfinance in Kenya: Privacy Concerns in Alternative Credit Scoring Models

By Mercy King’ori**

The era of digitisation has ushered in the development of many new technologies that have improved the way in which business is undertaken. One such improvement is in the area of data. Data-driven companies are likely to be the most competitive in this current era. This has attracted efforts from the government and private sector in collecting and sharing data from various sectors. There is a lot of personally identifiable information that is collected and archived in data stores; all of which is taking place in a regulatory environment devoid of a national data protection law.

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Renewing the Call for a National Intellectual Property Strategy in Kenya

In a recent article by Dr Isaac Rutenberg and yours truly published in the Journal of Culture, Arts and Performance (JAHAZI) here we look at Kenya’s long journey towards a national intellectual property (IP) policy and strategy. It is argued that such a policy and strategy must be aligned with development priorities and socio-economic realities of Kenya and her people. The journey begins in 2005 when World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) commissioned an IP audit in Kenya to assess the prevailing situation of the IP system in Kenya making findings on strengths and weaknesses that would be used to develop a national intellectual property policy and strategy. Although the final audit report was prepared and submitted by WIPO to the Kenya government in 2006, the formulation of a national IP policy and strategy has never been formally completed with the last known attempts dating back five years.

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New CIPIT Research: An Assessment of the Evolution of Kenya’s ICT Law and Policy Framework

An article by CIPIT researchers Dr. Isaac Rutenberg, Douglas Gichuki and Arthur Gwagwa titled: “Historical Antecedents and Paradoxes that Shaped Kenya’s Contemporary Information and Communication Technology Policies” has recently been published in the Harvard Africa Policy Journal available here. In the article, the authors retrace Kenya’s 5 decade long journey from independence to its present ‘Silicon Savannah’ status. Through an analysis of legislative and policy reforms in the area of information and communication technology (ICT), the authors argue that although Kenya has come a long way in introducing liberal market reforms that have immensely benefited the technology sector, policy challenges remain. In particular, the authors note as signs of relapse the passing of certain laws and introduced measures that restrict civil liberties, ostensibly as anti-terrorism measures, as well as to diffuse ethnic tensions.

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“Making” Knowledge for Innovation and Development: Researching Kenyan Makerspaces

Kenya’s vibrant technology sector is known for its innovations in software. The successes of M-PESA, a widely used mobile money transfer platform, and Ushahidi, a global crowdsourcing mapping app, has drawn international attention to the Kenyan startup scene. Supporting the startup scene are a number of tech hubs, incubators, and accelerators.

Software, however, can only be as innovative as the hardware it runs on. A growing network of makerspaces are training Kenyan innovators in the knowledge and skills to manufacture disruptive hardware solutions. What is the story of makerspaces in Kenya? What supports are available for hardware-based innovators? How effective are these makerspaces at promoting innovation? What methods are innovators using to share and protect their ideas?

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Communications Authority on the Spot over Network Facilities Provider License to Jamii Telecom

By Charles Opiyo**

Recently, one of the local dailies had the following headline emblazoned upon it, “Tycoon gifted Sh5bn mobile phone license…” This story related to Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) granting a Network Facilities Provider Tier 1 License to Jamii Telecommunications Limited (JTL). The holder of this license is permitted to build and commercially operate telecommunication/electronic communications systems. According to media reports however, the amount paid by JTL was well below the full value of the license (stated by the press to be 5 billion Kenya Shillings). The media report goes on to relate that the amount that JTL paid was only 100,000 Kenya Shillings.

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Streamlining Public Transport in Kenya: A Commentary

by Wendy Muchai**

The introduction of an e-payment system for the public service vehicles (PSVs) in the transport sector has been an idea embraced by some, for reasons that implementation of such a system could greatly help regulate the matatu industry, including eliminating corruption and facilitating collection of taxes. However, others have been opposed to a cashless system for reasons such as loss of income to matatu crews since no e-ticketing system would be able to take into consideration the informal and ad-hoc revenue-share arrangements between the PSV owners and their crews.

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