Sunday, July 22, 2007

kenyan techies headed to jail

Kenyan techies headed to jail...

By Rebecca Wanjiku

If the new Kenya Communications Amendment bill becomes law, all Kenyan techies and computer owners with pay a fine of shs 1 million, or risk a jail term or both.


Section 86 of the KCA bill states that...

No person shall

Operate an electronic Certification system

Update a repository

Administer a sub-domain in the ccTLD

To do the above one requires a license, or face the penalties.

Michuki Mwangi, the chief executive officer of KENIC, reckons that there are many Kenyan techies who have been infringing on this rule and will face the full force of the law once its assented.

In interrogating these issues, Michuki asks, what is a repository? He argues that a repository could constitute a computer hard disk, mainly because the bill has not defined what a repository is.

“I have a self signed certificate, I create sub-domains and so many other Kenyans do. The government will have to give 32million potential sub-domain users. That’s a whole load of licenses to issue,” said Michuki.

Section 87 and 88 provides that:

The dot KE registry and the Digital Certificate Registry need a license

Michuki reckons that .KE model is globally recognized and in deed South Africa wants to follow up but adds that the new law will open room for subdivision of the registry, provided one can pay the license.

For instance in south Africa, the .CO.ZA , .AC.ZA and other domains were operated by different entities and this is the time they are trying to integrate registry operations under one registry.

“It has the right intentions but just needs a bit of tweaking and rewording. The bill could have captured other areas of IT like local content matters were not well addressed,” said Michuki.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

stakeholder views or just feeding us??

Stakeholder forum is ok, but does it work?

At Safari park hotel, many stakeholders gathered to give their views. From Safaricom, Celtel to the consumer association, they all had something to say about the KCA bill.

ICJ described the bill as unprecedented and the PS Bitange Ndemo assured participants that their views would be incorporated.

But if the past process is anything to go by, is there any assurance that the views will be taken on board.

Stakeholders wanted an expansion of the constituencies expected to be consulted, and an assurance that the views would be considered… no one seemed to answer the question categorically, it was only said that the views would be compiled and forwarded.

Others wanted the bill to protect them from any perceived crime because they are carriers while others wanted the bill to conform to other established principles in the commonwealth. It was a productive forum.

Those with contentions about the wording of the clauses were also encouraged to help by bringing in the clauses worded in their favourable way.

But is this a chance for people to meet, take the tea and lunch or is it going to bear any fruits.

I guess the fruits will be manifested by the inclusion of substantial contributions from the cross section of constituencies.

Monday, July 16, 2007

why amend?

Am sure people are expecting a “convoluted” reason as to why the AG decided amend KCA (98) instead of coming up with a brand new Act.

Well, don’t wait for a “huge” explanation, its simple- the AG just thought it was easier to amend instead of coming up with a new Act that may be changed or be altered by insertion of new issues including typing errors.

At least that is what we were told at the stakeholders meeting.

For George Kegoro, ICJ-K head, the present bill is terribly confusing for lawyers and parliamentarians. Kegoro felt that it would have been procedurally easier in terms of practice to bring a brand new statute (through an original Act).

He added that the government can be accused of lack of good faith in this case because it could have been done better.

examining the KCA bill

faced with growing criticism, the ministry of information and communication is meeting stakeholders at Safaripark hotel to get their views on the proposed bill.

here are some highlights of the bill....

One, as drafted the Bill seeks to converge all sectors of communication (broadcasting, telecommunications and information technologies/internet) under one regulatory body i.e. the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) and thus, purportedly, streamline the licensing procedures and management of frequency spectrum, through numerous fundamental amendments to an existing principal Act and other incidental laws.

At a glance, this style of law making is clumsy, without precedent in Kenya and indeed the whole Commonwealth. It is the form of law making process that will most likely convolute issues and end up with bad law. Would it not have been tidier to come up with a new law that retains all the required provisions and repeals the existing law?

Since the principal Act, the Kenya Communications Act, 1998, is merely a skeletal legislation that only establishes the CCK, provides for licensing and regulation of telecommunications services, radio communications and postal Services, it is difficult to comprehend the wisdom of using it as the building block towards a law that will incorporate all aspects of broadcasting and information technology.

Again whether having a converged regulatory regime is the most ideal situation or having separate regulatory frameworks for the various communication sectors is to be preferred is a big question and one not easy to resolve without elaborate and structured consultations with all stakeholders and consumers of information – i.e. the general population.