Kenya's ICT Cabinet Secretary, Joe Mucheru, has dismissed the recent proposal submitted to AFRINIC which suggests various punishments for Afrikan governments that shutdown the Internet.
Mucheru is reported to have dismissed the proposal as a public relations exercise.
“(It's) a public relations exercise by companies and associations that enjoy excess freedoms to the extent they feel they can threaten governments.” said Mucheru.
The proposal titled "Anti-Shutdown-01 proposal" was submitted by Andrew Alston and Ben Roberts of Liquid Telecommunications, and Fiona Asonga of the Telecomunications Service Providers Association of Kenya (TESPOK) to AFRINIC. It calls for Afrikan governments that shut down Internet access in their countries to be denied resources, in this case IP addresses, for a period of twelve months following the shutdown.
This is not the first time that Kenyan government authorities have raised eyebrows with their comments around Internet shutdowns, earlier in 2017 Ben Gituku (Chairman of the Communications Authority of Kenya) said that they are likely to effect an Internet shutdown in the country should things get out of hand before or during the 2017 presidential elections.
Mucheru's comment is interesting as it mentions companies having "excess freedoms" and seeing the suggested measures to counter Internet shutdowns as threats by organisations to governments. With Kenya's presidential elections set for 8 August 2017, it will be interesting to observe how Kenya handles social media and Internet freedom given how some countries, like its neighbour Uganda, have gone on to shutdown the Internet and/or social media during election period.
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