Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiangi has maintained the government will not shut down the internet before during, and after the August General Election.
This comes after the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) on Friday threatened to recommend the suspension of Facebook over noncompliance with hate speech regulations.
“The position of the government is very clear, we will respect the Constitution, respect all the rights of our people. We will not intrude or interfere with the freedoms of our people,” CS Matiangi said while in Kisii.
NCIC agency issued a seven-day ultimatum to the social media giant to clean up hate speech on its platform or risk suspension.
Commissioner Danvas Makori issued the ultimatum on behalf of the Commission but Dr Matiangi termed his sentiments as “personal opinion and not official policy”.
Matiangi stressed the Cabinet has never entertained the idea of infringing on the rights of Kenyans.
“That was his opinion which I can confirm that we are not going to take or listen to. We are a mature government and we will not shut down social media or the internet,” Matinagi said.
Information Communication and Technology (ICT) Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru also on Saturday dismissed the NCIC position noting that “media, including social media, will continue to enjoy press freedom in Kenya”.
He reiterated that the government “is on record. We are NOT shutting down the Internet”.
However, NCIC does not have the power to suspend Facebook but can make recommendations to the government’s Communications Authority.
NCIC’s recommendations followed a report by advocacy group Global Witness and UK-based legal activist firm Foxglove that said Facebook had accepted and broadcast at least 19 ads in both English and Swahili calling for rape, slaughter, and beheadings
“From the report, it is very clear that Facebook is in violation of the laws of our country. They have allowed themselves to be a vector of hate speech and incitement, misinformation, and disinformation,” NCIC Commissioner Danvas Makori said adding that the Commission had sent recommendations to Facebook.