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MP sponsoring bill to regulate WhatsApp admins speaks

Whatsapp administrators will be required to register online with their official credentials if a bill by Malava Member of Parliament Patrick Injendi is passed by parliament.

According to the MP, the bill aims to promote responsible use of the Whatsapp platform and ensure quick crackdown on rogue individuals who disseminate false information.

Speaking exclusively to Metropol TV, Injendi said in as much as there is freedom of expression in Kenya, it has to be guided by rules and regulations to maintain sanity. Smartphone penetration in Kenya currently stands at 78 %. This is heavily supported by fast Internet speed in the country.

As such, social media has gained popularity in Kenya with Whatsapp having over 12 million users in the country and Facebook 7 million users. With Whatsapp at the palm of everybody’s hand, information now travels faster than it did a decade ago.

While this has served the world and Kenya well, social media usage has equally had its shortcomings. This is what has informed Malava Member of Parliament Malulu Injendi’s bill on regulation of Whatsapp adminstrators.

He said that some group of people is no longer using Whatsapp for its intended purpose. People use the platform to slander and discredit others. They do this comfortably since they have pseudo accounts and know they can’t be tracked down and face legal charges that is why he have formulated my bill.

The bill proposes that Whatsapp admins make known their residential addresses so that they can easily be tracked down and held responsible for any information disseminated by members of their group.

He added that Kenya doesn’t have a proper address system thus we cannot track down anyone who spreads false information online. As such, Whatsapp admins will be required to submit their residential addresses. To promote online accountability further, we will require online users to register with their national identification and not pseudo names.

While the idea of cracking down on rogue online users is welcome, concerns have been raised over user privacy if their personal data is out in the cloud and freedom of expression.

However, the Malava MP says his bill is within the confines of the constitution in article 34 that allows for freedom of expression as long as you are not infringing another person’s privacy. Thus we would like to promote freedom of expression. However the regulation is just to uphold responsibility and not curtail freedom

Should the bill be passed, moving forward, Whatsapp admins will be held responsible for whatever information is relayed in or from their group. Further, you will be required to use you names and register online with your official government identification details.

For now, it’s a wait and see. Whether responsible communication will outweigh the need for freedom of expression.

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