US scientists ‘spied’ on phone users

An American university and a Kenyan research agency obtained private cell phone details of nearly 15 million Kenyans in 2008 without their knowledge, the university now says. Photo/FILE

What you need to know:

  • By the end of 2008, Kenya had just over 15 million mobile phone subscribers, according to official data from the Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK).
  • Consumer Federation of Kenya secretary general Stephen Mutoro termed the move as illegal, saying they had written a protest letter to local mobile phone companies.
  • On social media, Kenyans reacted angrily to the revelations.  Joan Onyango-Obunga posted, “We are under surveillance of whatever sort 24/7 ... It has become the norm.” Donald J Ouko wondered, “Why track 15M Kenyans under the guise of monitoring malaria?  Why did a local provider unilaterally open its data base for use by foreigners?” Faith Anne termed it a lack of ethics in research.

An American university and a Kenyan research agency obtained private cell phone details of nearly 15 million Kenyans in 2008 without their knowledge, the university now says.

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