Govt will not shut internet during polls, says CS Mucheru

July 7, 2017 8:57 am
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Information, Communications and Technology Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru stated that there are no immediate plans to disable internet in the country since they need it for smooth election process/FILE
NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 7 – The government says it has no intention of disabling the internet ahead of the forthcoming General Election.

Information, Communications and Technology Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru stated that there are no immediate plans to disable internet in the country since they need it for smooth election process.

He however said that the government machinery is ready to take action on internet users inciting Kenyans to violence through hate speech.

“You have seen that this has been the most peaceful time before elections. We are talking thirty days before the elections and the country is fairly peaceful so I am not anticipating that there is any time we are going to switch off the internet,” he said.

“But you have to be prepared as a country and the things that you need to do to ensure we are safe and at the moment, we have no plans of switching of the internet, media or anything because everybody is using the same technology for elections,” he stated.

He stressed that it is the duty of the government to protect the country during the campaign season and after the August polls.

“We are very clear that as a country, we have to take care of Kenya first. Even after August 8, Kenya will continue, and so we cannot let a few people try to bring this country down in any way,” he indicated.

‘So we will take every measure that will be required to ensure that as the constitution requires us to do, we protect Kenyans wherever they are but so far there are no indications that we need to take action.”

Mucheru further stated that the government is tightening restriction on social media use ahead of the August 8 General Election, keeping a close eye on political posts and what it calls sensational reporting on unauthenticated digital platforms such as those posted on Facebook and Twitter.

He indicated that his ministry was also working closely with the Interior Ministry to ensure guidelines developed by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) are adhered to by social media users.

The guidelines, coming ahead of the election, particularly bar political messages that are offensive, abusive, insulting, misleading, confusing, obscene or profane.

The cohesion commission says messages that contain “inciting, threatening or discriminatory language that may, or is, intended to expose an individual or group of individuals to violence, hatred, hostility, discrimination or ridicule on the basis of ethnicity, tribe, race, colour, religion, gender or disability” constitute a breach of the law.

Mobile phone operators have also been given the power to stop circulation of any message deemed inflammatory.

The rules also dictate that no bulk text messages will be in vernacular.

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