CA asks court to dismiss case blocking Safaricom from subscribers’ bank data

Communications Authority of Kenya

The Communications Authority of Kenya headquarters in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) wants a class action against the regulator and Safaricom on SIM card registration that allows the telco to collect bank details of mobile phone users dismissed, arguing that the matter is premature.

CA says in reply to the petition filed by two lawyers over the SIM registration exercise, which was conducted last year that such disputes should be handled by the regulator, hence moving to the High Court was premature.

Senior counsel Wilfred Nderitu and Charles Kanjama filed the case last year seeking the deletion of Clause 3.2.1 in the data privacy statement, which subscribers filled as part of the re-registration process.

The clause states that the telecoms operator can “collect and store information including credit or debit card information, information on bank account numbers, Swift codes or other banking information”.

The court allowed subscribers aggrieved by the requirement to join the case in a class action suit.

“The Kenya Information and Communications (Dispute Resolution) Regulations 2010 vests the power of the 2nd defendant (CA) to resolve disputes between a consumer and a licensee such as the Plaintiffs and the 1st defendant herein and as such the claim herein is premature and should be dismissed with costs,” the CA said in the application.

The clause appears in a 58-page document that has the terms and conditions attached to last year’s update of SIM card registrations.

The lawyers stated that Safaricom’s dominance of the Kenyan mobile market forced subscribers to accept the clause, arguing that users had no leverage to decline inking the SIM card registration rules.

“As such, the stringent mechanisms and crafty ways of collecting data without assurance of data security are precipitated by the thought that its clients have no option but to opt-in for them to continue enjoying the products and services that it offers,” Mr Nderitu said in an affidavit filed in court.

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