Kenya rejects new Internet domain

May 3, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 3 – Kenya has moved to censor the newly registered .xxx domain through which Internet users can access pornographic content.

Speaking during the 20th anniversary celebrations of World Press Freedom Day on Tuesday, Information and Communication Permanent Secretary Bitange Ndemo said Kenya would not certify the top level domain that was recently approved by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.

Countries such as Japan and China have also declined to take up the new domain in an attempt to censure pornographic material.

"Some countries have that freedom but parents have the responsibility of stopping their children from accessing these sites. Most parents in Kenya are not Internet savvy unlike their children so such material would not be controlled," he argued.

"We are not going to allow .xxx in this country; it\’s actually a certificate for people to watch pornography," he added.

Dr Ndemo also emphasised the role of the media in the implementation of the new Constitution noting that it was tasked with educating the masses on the document\’s content.

He added that the government was in the process of placing measures that would force Internet Service Providers to share fibre optic cables as well as telecommunication masts. He explained that the move was aimed at reducing unhealthy competition between service providers in addition to ensuring Kenyans got quality service.

He further observed that one mast had enough capacity to serve all four operators.

"The problems that you have been seeing of cable cuts which escalate the costs emanate from competition. So if you force them to share it will be foolish for anyone to cut the cables. And we are also discussing how mobile operators will share pay stations," he said.

Meanwhile, Standard Group Deputy Chairman Paul Melly has raised concern that Kenyan journalists continued facing harassment from the authorities. He argued that the government ought to facilitate free access to information for members of the press in order to prevent conflicts.

He further asked the government to protect the media against lawsuits noting that were likely to increase with the passage of the new Constitution.

Last month, one reporter and two editors from the Standard Group were summoned and grilled by the CID over a story indicating that one of the Ocampo Six suspects had lost Sh840 million at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. The police wanted the three to reveal the names of their sources.

"Sometimes the media has no option but to try to get information from sources they perceive as knowledgeable. And therefore we might speculate and when we speculate we get into trouble with the State; as a result journalists face a lot of harassment from the police," protested Mr Melly.

He further challenged the government to ensure that the planned regulation of the media would not undermine press freedoms.

"How does the Media Council facilitate and ensure that the media performs the role of self regulation while at the same time imposing sanctions on our membership without a strong regulatory arm of government?" he posed.

Dr Ndemo however noted that the concerns raised would be adequately addressed by the Media Bill once it was ready. He also argued that the media would be tasked with monitoring itself with the guidance of the media council.

"We want the media council to be an independent body that regulates media in this country; it will not be tasked with regulating the media owners. It will be an association like we have the Dentists\’ Association and the Law Society of Kenya," he explained.

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