Local administrators of WhatsApp groups will be held responsible for spread of falsehood and hate speech, Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) Director-General Francis Wangusi has warned.
He said administrators of such groups have the responsibility of ensuing that members do not spread rumours, hate speech or misinform others and the public on issues that they do not have evidence.
Speaking during a stakeholders’ breakfast meeting on elections preparedness at the Intercontinental Hotel, Nairobi, Mr Wangusi warned that the authority would not allow warmongers to take charge of the cyberspace.
“Currently, we have identified 21 County WhatsApp platforms and we have indicated to their administrators that they have to take action before we deal with them,” he said.
Mr Wangusi said CA monitors have started snooping around telecommunication gadgets, media and social media platforms to ensure that perpetrators of hate speech are dealt with as per the law.
It is, however, not clear how CA will obtain information from WhatsApp groups, whose data is encrypted.
He warned media houses that have been allowed to have their own tallying centres against publishing their results as final.
“Some media houses have been licensed by the Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to have their own tallying centres. This does not permit them to publish any election results as final before IEBC does so.
“We shall be monitoring activities by media houses to ensure they abide by broadcasting regulations and the Elections Offences Act,” he said.
National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) chairman Francis Ole Kaparo said they have launched a massive crackdown on offensive websites and other social media platforms.
Near the border
He said his commission had began dealing with websites that impersonate dignitaries or political parties.
“These proxies are the major source of fake news and to a larger extent, the problem of misinformation and hate speech,” he said.
Mr Kaparo gave an example of a blogger based in Busia near the border with Uganda, who posted on social media a post to the effect that non-Kikuyus living in Limuru (central Kenya) had been killed, and yet nothing of the sort had happened.
“When we tracked down the blogger, we found him in Busia and he had not even been to Limuru. These are the kind of senseless activities we want to eradicate,” he said.