Striking balance between privacy and security
The world has its eyes and ears on US, whose Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) is battling it out with one of the biggest technology companies, Apple, where the formers wants the latter compelled to write special software that would override some security features on apple products. Now what makes the world watch this particular case in suspense is because it exposes the problems brought about by the clash between security and privacy.
In this particular case, the FBI wants Apple to unlock and open the iphone of one of the people involved in the terror attack that occurred in San Bernardino, with security as their backdrop. Apple in its defence, says it cannot do as the government demands due to the fact that if the phone was to be unlocked, then it will make it easier for cyber terrorists to create backdoors to the iphone systems, and thus put at risk people’s privacy.
American author Catherine Neville said, “Privacy is like eating and breathing; it is one of life’s basic requirements.” She understood just how basic privacy is, especially in this digital era. Although, when it is really important is when it’s most vulnerable especially when security gets involved. Security is important but governments world over have caused more harm than good in this sector as they have pitted the two against each other.
Kenya is also home to some problems when it comes to security and privacy; the two rights are not clearly understood by Kenyans and thus it makes them easy prey to having their privacy rights easily infringed upon. When the government amended the Securities Act in 2014, it created an even bigger problem between the laws on privacy and security.
In Kenya the right of privacy in connection to someone’s home or property, information relating to family, their privacy affairs and communications is protected under Article 31 of the Constitution. It is true that the right to privacy is limited in accordance to some circumstances, but some of the Kenyan authorities seem to not understand this particular article of the constitution as security personnel regularly conduct illegal searches and forced entries into property in the name of security.
The Security Laws (Amendment) Act 2014 made it possible for the National intelligence service (NIS) to be able to intercept the private communications of someone who is subject to investigation. This was made legal under the Security Laws (Amendment) Act 2014, section 55, which in sense makes the intelligence service the determiner on which surveillance to use and whose communication to intercept.
After the amendment, the people of Kenya started to slowly lose their privacy rights as the law limited privileges the people had in terms of privacy on their communications. The act also extended the persons who can be investigated by the intelligence service giving the agents from the service mandate to do it without giving any details.
Even more worrying, the Directorgeneral has the power to introduce covert operations and give officers of the service powers to be able to enter, search, record and even to some extent extract things from the premises of someone subject to investigation if the national security is in any threat. This was all made legal under section 56 of the Security