Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) chairman Mr.Ngene Gituku (left) and Director General Mr.Francis Wangusi (right) addressing the press on the deployment of the Device Management System today.The Authority refuted claims that the system can access confidential data of mobile phone users.

The Communications Authority of Kenya CA has today refuted claims in the social and local media that the Authority is deploying a regulatory Device Management System (DMS) with the express intention of accessing private data of mobile phone users.

The CA Director General Mr. Francis Wangusi said the deployment of the system is informed by the need to curb counterfeits, illegal termination of telecommunications traffic, and phone models that have not been type approved to work in Kenya.

Such devices potentially compromise quality of service, health of users and environment.

The implementation of this system is also intended to meet the requirements of the East African Region under the Northern Corridor Integration Project Heads of State Summit, which directed each member state to deploy systems that curb illegal by-pass and termination of telecommunications traffic within the context of the ‘One Network Area’.

SIM-boxing, which is used by unscrupulous people to illegally divert and terminate telecommunications traffic, not only poses a security threat but also leads to loss of revenue to both mobile operators and government through evasion of taxes.                                                     

“It is against this background that the Authority has continued to revamp the framework for the management of illegal telecom devices in the country.  Indeed the acquisition of a Device Management System (DMS) is the second phase of the initial initiative that saw Mobile Network Operators switch off all counterfeit mobile devices in Kenya in 2010,” Mr Wangusi said. 

The DMS will be populated by data of all genuine devices (a whitelist), to uniquely identify each device. Once deployed, the DMS shall facilitate denial of service to all illegal communications devices within the country including SIM boxes, counterfeit, substandard, non-type approved and stolen devices.

Mr Wangusi said the Authority has been in extensive consultation with industry and other stakeholders including COFEK and the Mobile Number Operators MNO’s.

 All mobile operators will be required to connect to the DMS and ensure that blacklisted devices do not access mobile services.

“It is important to note here that the system is deployed in a manner that facilitates mobile network operators to make reference to the database of all genuine devices (a whitelist) to solely verify the status of the phone device before providing service to the user.  This is contrary to reports that the system will be extracting subscriber data for use by third parties,” Mr Wangusi added.

The initiative is not new.  Initially, the initiative also saw the establishment of an SMS-based device verification service, dubbed “1555”, for the mobile devices. The main intention for this service was to empower consumers with the ability to verify mobile devices before purchase.  It was later anticipated that the second phase of the initiative against illegal devices would be to address “cloned” devices that are unidentifiable using the 1555 service. 

“I wish to assure the Kenyan public that the Authority remains committed to effective regulation of the sector and protection of public interest in order to maintain confidence in the use of ICT services in the country,” Mr Wangusi said. 

You can read the full statement here.