CCK spells out new SMS rules
By Semaj Itosno, Nairobi, Kenya
The Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK), has unveiled new regulations aimed at curbing hate speech ahead of the 2013 general elections.
In the new rules, Content Service Providers sending political messages shall be required to submit SMSs for vetting to the mobile operators at least 48 hours before sending.
To further protect cell phone subscribers from receiving spam messages, CCK has banned transmission of political messages to end users who have not subscribed for the service.
CCK developed the guidelines in consultation with the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC), the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), the Registrar of Political Parties, mobile network operators and content service providers.
The industry regulator, has also banned transmission of anonymous political messages and mobile operators have been given right to refuse transmitting political messages deemed as offensive to the law.
“The submission will include the verbatim content of the political message, a signed authorisation from the political party or individual sponsoring the political message, and certified copies of registration documents of the political entity or identification documents of the individuals,” reads the blueprint in part.
The regulator said subscribers who individually send inflammatory text messages shall be tracked down and charged with incitement to violence.
The penalty for persons found guilty of using mobile platforms to threaten, incite, abuse, insult, and stirring up ethnic hatred face a fine not exceeding one million shillings or imprisonment for a jail term of not more than three years; or both.
Francis Wangusi, director general of the CCK said the new rules have been necessitated by the 2007/2008 post-election violence that saw over 1000 people killed and close to one million displaced.
“Content service providers will be required to provide evidence of such consent immediately upon request by mobile operators, government agencies or the regulator,” CCK said in a statement.