With greater internet penetration, Kenyans are increasingly using smartphones to access the internet. These gadgets ubiquitously track and generate personal data. They also facilitate numerous applications (apps) provided by third party developers. Some of the trends in app development include betting as well as mobile loan apps. These apps depend on analysis of personal data of the mobile user to offer their services. Such data is of interest to many other parties such as law enforcement, marketers and political actors. How then are users protected from their data being unjustly accessed by third parties?
This study sought to assess the extent to which local intermediaries in Kenya promote digital rights with the overall objective of advocacy for improved human rights based intermediary policies. The research is part of a year-long project to initiate discourse and make policy recommendations for internet intermediaries to clarify their rights and responsibilities. The project also aims to create and develop awareness and dialogue about digital rights in relation to intermediaries, thus promote informed usage of intermediary products. A bigger picture goal of this research is to contribute to knowledge on how technology affects the Kenyan society.
The study established that there are still challenges in how internet intermediaries handle the rights of consumers who utilize their services. This is exarberated by the increased of uptake of their services on one hand and absence of a clear legal and policy regime on the other. Without regulations detailing the rights of users and the duties of internet intermediaries, there is a likelihood that human rights of the users are possibly abused or violated. Lack of simple avenues for redress was also identified as a pitfall in achievement of digital rights through internet intermediaries.
In addition, the study observes that internet intermediaries have adopted varying policies and practices largely to foster their business interests rather than protect the rights of users. Moreover, the level of awareness among users on their human rights online remains wanting. Neither the users, nor the companies appear to recognise the importance of awareness. This therefore calls for urgent action by governments and all relevant stakeholders to work towards addressing this issues.