Browsers grappling with restrictions on speed dials and bookmarks

iPhone browsing

A client of iPhone browsing.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Speed dials allow internet users to quickly access favourite websites.
  • Last year, BCLB banned browsers from advertising on speed dials

Speed dials and bookmarks within browsers are facing new restrictions as a result of regulatory action in Kenya.

The government has since last year instituted a ban on a practice where companies have been partnering with browsers to have their websites displayed on speed dials – with Kenyan mobile phone users inadvertently one of the biggest casualties.

Speed dials are visual icons on the interface of a browser that help users quickly navigate to frequently visited websites. 

Along with bookmarks – which allow users to save website addresses without having to memorize long URLs – they are integral navigational tools of the internet. 

They allow internet users to save their favourite websites for quick and easy access, and are often the first thing users see when they open a browser.

Both features are common to every web browser worldwide – including global heavyweights like Google Chrome and Apple’s Safari – and are an important everyday aspect of how users navigate the web. 

The Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) last year, however, banned browsers from advertising on speed dials, making Kenya the only country that has enacted such regulation. 

The BCLB directive affected Opera Mini, one of the major browsers used in the country, with an estimated 13 million users according to Opera, the company that owns Opera Mini.

While other browsers continue to operate speed dials, Opera – which makes the popular, data-saving Opera Mini browser and sponsors free data campaigns – has so far been the only one affected.

The company has since stopped its Free Data campaigns, which provided users with 1.5GB of free data a month since 2020, a decision some sources within Opera Mini say has cut off about 6 million internet users who used feature phones to browse through its platform.