Kenya cracks down on hate speech via mobile phone messages

Telecoms

Kenyans who incite violence and send hateful messages through social media and text messages could face steep fines, said Acting Director of Communications in the Ministry of Information Omwa Om.

The National Steering Committee on Media Monitoring has announced it is putting in place appropriate technology to identify hate speech sent via text messages.

The use of social media for conflict incitement is a primary concern, the committee said. "The government will act to ensure that the internet is not used to provide room for such activity," the committee said in a statement.

Ombara, accompanied by deputy police spokesman Charles Owino, Communications Commission of Kenya Corporate Affairs Manager Christopher Wambua and Film Services Director Alex Kerich, appealed to Kenyan bloggers to be alert and vigilant and "bring to our attention any hate speech they detect on the internet".

The officials said eight bloggers were being investigated for hate speech and would be prosecuted soon.

The crackdown on hate speech is part of a larger effort to promote peace and tolerance ahead of the Kenya general elections in March 2013.