Kenyans have been urged to be extra vigilant to avoid falling victim to the vices of computer misuse and cybercrimes.
At a public participation forum on computer misuse and cyber-crime regulations held in Malindi town Tuesday, it was noted that cons have continued to take advantage of gullible Kenyans through mobile money transfer platforms, chief among them M-Pesa.
This is despite the fact that the government, through the Communication Authority, ordered all telcos in the country to register all mobile phones and subscriber identification module (SIM) cards, with a threat to switch off unregistered gadgets and cards.
The forum was moderated by members of the Task force on the Development of the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act 2018 regulations led by co-chairperson Col Evans Ombati, officials from the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government and the office of the Attorney General.
Participants pointed an accusing finger at the telcos and the Communication Authority on the increased cases of online theft, cyber bullying and the proliferation of inappropriate online content such as pornography.
They called upon the government to act tough on persons who misuse computers and engage in cyber-crimes in order to make the country safe in this era of technological advancement.
Mr. Bati Guni, a Malindi resident, urged M-Pesa to introduce more security features in mobile funds transfers, including the use of National Identity Card numbers, to ensure that those receiving the funds are easily traced.
“If one sends money, one should also be required to input the ID number of the recipient alongside their phone numbers. This will make it impossible to send money to unregistered phone numbers and will eventually eliminate online conmanship,” he said.
Ms Wahida Duncan, also a resident of Malindi, urged parents to install parental control mechanisms on their children’s mobile gadgets to protect them from accessing inappropriate sites that could lead to online bullying.
Ms Wanjiku Mbio, A chief state counsel in the office of the Attorney General, said the vices have continued unabated due to lack of a legal framework to prosecute offenders and hoped the proposed computer misuse and cyber-crime regulations would cure the malady.
Col. Ombati said the views being collected by the task force country-wide would be collated and included in the final draft of the regulations.
“Our business is to develop regulations that meet the threshold of the current dynamics of technology and the requirements of the public and the government to conduct business in this country,” he said.
Ms Mbio, who was one of the main facilitators during the public participation forum held at Christ the King Baptist Church, said there was great need for public awareness on the use modern telecommunication gadgets in order for the public to be protected in the cyber space.
“We are now in the digital space worldwide, so this law is going to protect our nation from criminals and other people of ill repute who are doing business in the cyber space,” she said and gave an example last month’s incident in which desperate Kenyans had their eye balls scanned as they were being registered with World Coin.
Ms Mbio said despite the order to register all sim card holders, many people, especially non-Kenyans, were yet to be registered, hence the need for members of the public to continue being extra cautious.
“We are addressing a very big problem because Kenya is a destination of quite a number of human beings who are not ordinarily citizens of Kenya. We are experiencing an influx of nationals from other countries in Africa and the world, so not very many people from outside have complied with the law,” she said.
She expressed the need for parents to be alert to ensure their children do not become victims of cyber bullying, adding that the Children’s Act 2022 had laid down provisions to safeguard children in the cyber space.
During the forum, a participant narrated how he had been conned a whopping Ksh 47,000 to a fraudster who claimed to be an official of the Kenya Power and Lighting Company and was able to connect electricity to his new house.