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Google Kenya says can’t act on Mutua gay video ban

Kenya Film Classification Board CEO Ezekiel Mutua when the regulator banned the pro-gay music video Same Love. PHOTO | FILE
Kenya Film Classification Board CEO Ezekiel Mutua when the regulator banned the pro-gay music video Same Love. PHOTO | FILE 

American technology giant Google’s Kenyan office has said it has no authority to take down any flagged content on its website.

The response follows a demand by the Kenya Films Classification Board (KFCB) requiring Google to take down a gay music video from YouTube, saying it violated Kenya’s laws.

In a letter addressed to KFCB chief executive, Ezekiel Mutua, Google’s lawyer for sub-Saharan Africa Ife Osaga-Ondondo said the Kenyan unit does not administer services on YouTube hence lacks the capacity to control the content that is accessible through the channel.

The KFCB had flagged the video claiming it was inappropriate and in contravention of Kenya’s laws.

The video is still on YouTube.

“We are in receipt of your later dated February 22 regarding a request to take down a YouTube video titled Same Love on grounds of being inappropriate and in contravention of the Kenyan law.

“We, therefore, would like to request you to submit your legal request electronically via web or by contacting YouTube LLC/Google Inc. directly via postal mail, email or fax,” said Mr Osago-Ondondo.

He said YouTube LLC/Google Inc and Google Kenya Ltd are separate legal entities and that all requests directed to the addresses given in the legal document will be responded to in a timely manner.

However, Mr Osago-Ondondo did not mention how long it would take before the flagged content is brought down.

The board had given Google a week to comply, which has since long passed.

Mr Mutua said KFCB has already written another letter to YouTube LLC/Google Inc as advised by the firm’s lawyer and is awaiting a response.
He said the regulatory agency would consult with the Attorney General on the next course of action.

“Google took a while to respond but following what their lawyer said, conversation is in progress and we are giving them time for internal consultations,” said Mr Mutua.

“We have not reached the point of taking them to court for non-compliance but we are building a case that if we will be required to prosecute we will do so,” said Mr Mutua.

Mr Mutua says Kenya “is dealing with the war of ideologies and the negative influence of vulnerable groups against their moral values as required by law”.

He added that if a homosexual man applied for a job at KFCB they would be employed, “but if they kiss one another man in public they will be condemned”.