, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 14 – Information and Communication Permanent Secretary Bitange Ndemo has accused politicians of unlawfully obtaining individuals’ personal data to solicit for votes via texts.
Ndemo told journalists on Wednesday that they had even gone as far as hacking into the Registrar of Political Parties’ database to get people’s private information including phone numbers.
He explained that the ministry had received numerous complaints from members of the public regarding the violation.
“We found that the Registrar of Political Parties’ site had been compromised and it is where most people had given detailed information about themselves including their numbers,” he said.
Ndemo however said that the government could not prosecute those behind the hacking and that victims should forward the matter to the courts.
He added that the complaints started coming in last week.
“There is not much that we can do because the data has already been downloaded and people have it. So what we are now doing is to create awareness; if you get unsolicited messages it is up to you to go to court,” he argued.
The ministry also expressed concern over some of the hateful messages that had been spreading on social networks, since Monday’s presidential debate.
Public Communications Director Mary Ombara noted that some bloggers graded the eight presidential candidates to fan their hateful messages.
She said that most of those blogs were being run by Kenyans in the Diaspora and that some of the locally owned blogs, which were spreading hate, had been shut down as a result.
“By midnight on Monday bloggers had resumed the posting of vicious and dangerous political messages. The situation was further aggravated by biased polling in the blogs that pitched some candidates as alleged winners of the debate,” she observed.
While hailing the historic debate, which was broadcast live on all media stations in Kenya, Ombara urged the organisers to include issues surrounding hate speech and incitement in the forthcoming February 25 debate.
Ndemo also took issue with the Kenya Human Rights Commission accusing it of releasing reckless statements regarding the country’s security situation.
He argued that the report, which claims that armed militia groups were now regrouping ahead of the elections, was alarming, false and irresponsible.
“The report that appeared yesterday is one year old and was talking about armed militia. But you will be told by the police that there is no armed militia in this country. The report was saying that the ‘siafu’ gang is in Kibera and we know it is somewhere else,” he argued.
Acting Police Spokesman Charles Owino also disputed the report findings arguing that the security agencies would already have picked them up.
He added that none of criminal gangs that already exist threaten national security.