‘My block list on Twitter is really growing and it's simply because I don't like all the negativity. Many idle people, who have nothing good to say, are all over saying this or that about me on my pages. I just block them.’ – Avril Nyambura, Kenyan entertainer
‘…Kenyans online (mostly Twitter) begun probably the worst stint of cyber bullying I’ve EVER experienced…I was called a “Malaya” (prostitute) and told I look like after being raped, I got HIV – all this by strangers online.’ – Adelle Onyango, radio presenter
First off, I am not a gender activist. Of course I believe in gender equality, but I am not an activist for it. I am not like, say, Prof. Austin Bukenya who is so committed to the cause of women that in one of his articles, he proudly describes himself as an ‘African woman writer’. Prof. Bukenya, one of East Africa’s leading intellectuals, is a founding member of FEMRITE, the Uganda Women Writers Association, and supports AMKA, a pro-women writing group in Kenya.
‘Oh, we wanted his opinion alright! Jack Arthur had spent three years dropping in and out of occupied Germany like a regular houseguest…When the Cold War came to replace the hot one, Jack hardly noticed the difference…If Jack Arthur said it was a dangerous planet, we believed him to the hilt!’
‘Even that sextape (featuring DJ Crème De La Crème) that is going around on social media, that guy will survive…some people are even calling him a “jogoo”. But if it was a woman, her career would be over…If it was Caroline Mutoko or Julie Gichuru, they would have been finished!’ – Maina Kageni, Classic 105 FM radio presenter (06/11/2015)
It is important to note that the World Wide Web doesn’t exist in a vacuum and the issues affecting women online stem from the offline culture. The online environment just makes it easier to carry out real-life prejudices. The interwebs are biased against women because most cultures still view women as second-class citizens. A case in point: Not too long ago, Kiambu governor William Kabogo publicly stated that unmarried women should not seek elective posts (seen as a jibe at his political opponent, Thika MP Alice Ng’ang’a). I fail to see what Ms Ng'ang'a's marital status has to do with her political functions. (In fact, in my view, not having familial responsibilities makes her better able to perform her public duties!) Let us not forget that President Daniel Arap Moi ruled Kenya for 24 years without an official First Lady. And I don’t recall William Kabogo, or other male leaders, complaining about Moi’s dubious marital status. That’s bias.
The political arena can be a killing field for women. That’s why out of Africa’s 54 independent states only one (Liberia) is led by a woman. Out of Kenya’s 222 members of Parliament, only a handful are women (many of them nominated). Here are some words of wisdom from Kenya’s most famous woman, the late Nobel Peace Prize Winner Wangari Maathai, who never achieved much in politics despite her high profile:
‘They (male opponents) want to get personal. They want to debase your womanhood. So I said, “Now, don’t give me that. Just use the anatomy that matters right now, and that is from the neck up.” (From Unbowed: A Memoir)
And here’s a quote from the very first woman to ever be elected MP in Nairobi, veteran politician Beth Mugo:
‘During the single party rule, women did not have a chance to compete fairly for nominations. Nominations were marred by violence, those of us who joined politics came forward determined to change that culture and demonstrate that women leaders were as good as men.’ (Sunday Nation, 08/11/2015)
We will come back to the subject of ‘changing the culture’.
The negative aspects of the Internet are some of the biggest headaches for female leaders, and even though online bile spews both ways, articles like ‘Why Women Aren't Welcome on the Internet’ outnumber male-victimization stories by the dozen. Female leaders who have been destroyed via the Internet include Ukrainian politician Olga Lyulchak, Taiwanese politician Chu Mei-feng (sex tape scandal) and Spanish municipal councillor Olvido Hormigos.
As a female, you don’t even have to do anything wrong (post nude pics, make controversial comments on social media etc) to be attacked online. Anyone can create a parody account, harvest your online pictures, steal your identity and then proceed to assassinate your character – at the click of a button. A case in point is the arrest, in 2015, of one Ashnaam Mohammed, a 21-year-old Kenyan blogger, for ‘impersonating’ both Kobi Kihara and Victoria Rubadiri (TV personalities) via online parody accounts. You can view a brief video of the saga below:
SPIES ‘R’ US
‘A spy need not be a writer but a writer must surely be a spy.’ - Andrei Bitov, author of Pushkin House
When you write espionage fiction, like I do, you come across all kinds of interesting information during research – like how nations spy on each other - and where passwords came from (and how effective they are). But let’s take step back, and then we’ll return to the subject at hand:
When I was a teenager, I dreamt of writing the kind of Cold War thrillers that I enjoyed reading (KGB vs CIA kind of stuff) but by the time I grew up, the Cold War was over. After many years of deliberation, I invented my own fictional Cold War that takes place only in Africa (mostly northern countries vs. sub-Saharan countries) and I am now using it as a canvas to craft spy stories under the banner, ‘Kiss, Commander, Promise’. The spy series revolves around three childhood friends (Georgeanne, Ernest and Johnny) who now all work for the same intelligence agency. At one point, Ernest, who is married to Georgeanne, suspects that his wife is cheating on him while he is on out-of-the-country missions so he enlists the help of Johnny to spy on her. Applying their cloak-and-dagger craft to a domestic situation, they ‘shadow’ her in the streets of Nairobi, hack into both her phone and laptop, and retrieve her most sensitive data and photos. Admittedly, character Georgeanne is no saint. The drop-dead gorgeous go-getter’s office nick-name is ‘Commander’ (for her high-handedness) and she may or may not be having an affair with a colleague at work. But the point of the saga is how easily her husband, character Ernest, is able to unearth her private data and track her future (s)exploits. This is based on factual research information which indicates that that obtaining passwords, monitoring computer activity and retrieving photos and other data from phones and computer devices is child’s play.
‘Private investigators’ aka ‘spy guys’ used to place demure ads in the classifieds, promising to ‘track ur cheating partner’. If you’ve been reading the classifieds of late, a new dimension has been added: now they’re promising to ‘catch ur cheating spouse in the act’ or ‘send u real-time photos’. Other services include ‘Retrieving ur husband/wife’s SMSs’.
TYPES OF DANGER / HARASSMENT:
‘It is very hard to defend yourself on the Internet where the minute a conversation goes on Twitter, on Facebook, it has degenerated because you don’t know what any idiot is going to say.’ – Journalist Larry Madowo on TV’s The Trend
‘Media was invented to correct rumour. With New Media (eg. Twitter), we have brought back rumour into news.’ – Miguel Anjomaralda, Spanish writer, BBC World Service (30/03/2014)
With about 1.5 billion social network users worldwide, people are often unaware of the potential dangers.
To intelligence agencies, world gov’ts, marketing firms, and other mega data-mining organizations, Facebook and similar sites are little more than ‘registries of living persons’ which are invaluable in providing vital, wide-ranging data (name, friends, interests, affiliations, political and religious views, geographical location, personality type etc). Incidentally, this information can be used to help military forces ‘master the human domain’ (identify and neutralize supposed future enemies in sci-fi-movie fashion).
The following video discusses the risks associated with social media like Facebook as well as social media safety:
Paradoxically, there's nothing 'social' about social media. And when 'social media' is combined with mobile technology, then what you have is a societal phenomenon - unique to our age - that makes it perfectly OK to close yourself off even in the company of others. A family unit can go out to a restaurant for dinner and each member will spend the majority of time interacting with their own smartphone or iPad; nobody talking the other. Some of the worst people do go out on a date with are the ones who compulsively check their Whatsapp/Viber/Instagram pages every few minutes. How will we ever auto-correct this and get people to 'look up from their phones'?
Douglas Rushkoff is a Professor of Media Studies at Queens College (London). He is also an author and maker of documentary films for 'FRONTLINE', the most recent of which is Generation Like, which deals with modern kids' obsession with the 'parallel universe' of so-called 'social media'. In an interview with podcast website SmellsLikeHumanSpirit.com, he says:
'You take the kids to a 5000-dollar trip, to the Rocky Mountains or some place, you know, and they're in front to the Rocky Mountains, or the desert, or the ocean and they're still on the device!...And you could say, "They're still being social, they're still being communicative", but in the end, they're not - WHAT THEY'RE DOING IS BEING ANTI-SOCIAL, they're not making the difficult effort of "Let me make friends with the other kids who are on this beach NOW", you know. "Let me make friends with all this other kids who are in Disney World, let me look at the other people who are in line"...Let's look, and see, and think and analyze...It's ultimately so much more rewarding."
In its few years of existence, 'anti-social media', for that is what is really is, has become the best platform for bragging, spreading propaganda, incitement, attacking people/communities/things you don't like etc. What heavy social media users may not be aware of is that the information they so gleefully upload about themselves is harvested, stored, mapped and analyzed by different categories of people, some of whom have already carried out successful experiments in 'mastering the human domain' ie. they know a group (even an entire country's population) so well that they can PREDICT the outbreak of such events as protests, strikes or war. This is bound to lead to more cases of 'pre-crime' or 'pre-emptive' arrests.
Here's a panel of medical doctors discussing some 'Social Media Dangers’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JI45BRkOiXc
And here is British author/actor Stephen Fry’s famous good-bye message to Twitter:
‘I have been buried by social media and trolled on newspapers simply for showing my real self. I posted a photo of myself without makeup. It showed my scars and everything but instead of being appreciated for showing the real me, I was bashed and called names.’ – Avril Nyambura, Kenyan entertainer
UrbanDictionary.com describes trolling as simply, ‘Being a prick on the internet because you can. Typically unleashing one or more cynical or sarcastic remarks on an innocent by-stander, because it's the internet and, hey, you can.’
In 2013, when Ms. Wangui Gitonga was crowned Miss World Kenya, a section of Kenyans on Twitter didn’t think she was optically nutritious. So, as hip-hoppers would say, they ‘went H.A.M.’ on the then 23-year-old university student, mostly targeting the size of her teeth. Sample Tweets:
@kipronoh_XA: Huyu Miss Kenya ako na tyranny of teeth hehehe
@DerylAduda: But Miss Kenya deserves her crown. She sunk her teeth into the competition and won it fairly without any teething problems
@masaku_ : I won't make fun of miss kenya for my safety i'm sure she's armed to teeth
@njiiru: Wildlife is a major tourist attraction in Kenya, Miss Kenya will be a good ambassador for that.
@masaku_: Miss Kenya is just a Madowo with a long hair.
@Dee_spicable: Miss Kenya should just 'miss' the whole event.
@masaku_ : Miss Kenya is quite hot especially if you haven't seen her yet.
@Digiriri: Miss kenya is not a beauty pageant,its a pungent it stinks.But kudos to miss kenya she fought for the crown tooth n nail
More recently, when popular Citizen TV anchor Janet Mbugua got married and some wedding photos were shared online, she was trolled by fellow Kenyans . Some of the disses:
Trizah Wanjiku: Congrats n all the best lakini on ua wedding day ungevaa bra my dea sista, the boobs letting us down.
Lucie Ir Njery: That dress is ugly and that hairdo ni ka imenyshewa. Congrats though, all the best
Joyce Munene: The wedding was too simple beyond my expectations you cannot always be perfect perfect even if she is expectant that gown is disappointment but most important it is the vow they took
Karen Muthoni Kangethe: Congrats... Na matiti zisha anguka na hujazaa This is not the Janet Mbugua wa citizen tv
She would be trolled again a few months later for continuing to anchor the evening news while visibly pregnant. Being a news person, Janet Mbugua of course came across the Tweets, such as this one: “Just wondering why Janet Mbugua must newscast in that condition. Never seen it before on Kenyan TV but me thinks it’s gross.” Her reaction:
“…At that time after a show, I was scrolling through social media to read what kind of discussion people were having about the program I had just hosted… I had sat in my car and was about to turn on the ignition but the tweet stopped me dead in my tracks. I usually pay no mind to people trolling me, that will always be there, but this was an insult to every expectant mother and I was deeply offended by his ignorance, bullying and insensitivity…” - From a blog post published Tuesday September 1, 2015.
‘Bullies are generally cowards.’ – English proverb
‘What I can say is that when you subject someone to the court of public opinion, that court is very rarely fair.’ – Ciku Muriuki, Nation FM presenter, on TV’s ‘The Trend’
'Keyboard ninjas’ are introverted or cowardly people who bravely attack others (politicians, celebrities etc) online where they can’t be physically confronted. A good example of this is a Twitter spat a few years ago between former WWE wrestler Batista (a tattooed giant who recently switched to Mixed Martial Arts fighting) and a couple of ‘keyboard ninjas’ who questioned his toughness seeing as how pro wrestling is ‘fake’. Batista (a well-muscled former nightclub bouncer) tweeted the specific name and street address of the gym where he still works out regularly, and challenged the Twitterers to go there and repeat their comments to his face. No-one turned up at the gym.
The following fragment from my poem 'To Be the Man' is dedicated to 'keyboard ninjas':
Instead of back-biting, why don’t you fight like a man?
Forget SMS, let’s go face to face...'
Despite being paper tigers, 'Keyboard ninjas’ CAN hurt one's feelings and have even been known to cause people, especially ladies, to delete their social media accounts.
According to a K24 TV report, 6 out of 10 women are bullied online every day, most of them between age 18 and 32. Female journalists are especially vulnerable to such attacks. One Kenyan celebrity who has been viciously attacked online but continues to remain unbowed is radio presenter Adelle Onyango. One attack on her emanated from an tiff she had with controversial male gospel artist, and another attack followed the release of a meme that compared her to a gorilla, based on the shape of her teeth:
Here's Adelle Onyango’s response to the cyber bully who compared her to a gorilla:
‘Ever since my first stint with cyber bullying and being involved in the INUA DADA CAMPAIGN handling bullying and its effects, I have done alot of reading on it. Seeing the number of suicides linked to bullying broke my heart. Your memes/tweets etc could be the last nail in someone's coffin....you ready to live with that?
And #TeamADELLE y'all are young people some of whom are being bullied now...it is NOT a reflection of YOUR character or YOUR beauty-NO. But a reflection of the bully's DAMAGED character!’
‘I just don’t know how they (the hackers) can go home and look in the mirror and think they’ve done something good today. That’s the part I don’t understand, I don’t care if they are just leaking someone’s vacation pictures, or any pictures, it does not matter - it is not yours. We wouldn’t be applauding someone who went into a store and stole something. I just don’t understand it at all.’
In 2012, according the the Business Daily, 103 Kenya government websites were taken down by an Indonesian hacker going by the name 'Direxer'.
In 2013, according to K24 TV, the Central Bank of Kenya website was hacked.
In 2014, Kenyan police discovered a nest of suspected Chinese hackers holed up in a posh Nairobi suburb. They were believed to be part of a cross-border telecommunications fraud group:
“The said hackers were able to send the email to the ministry, and some of the people in the ministry actually responded. They clicked and changed their credentials. And some of the ones who were affected then sent emails to everybody else as spam,” Mr Mucheru said in an interview in Nairobi. “As a result then, they were able to access some of the documents. But most of the documents are classified open. They never got any classified documents.” (Full article here: http://www.nation.co.ke/news/Govt-admits-hackers-stole-data-at-Foreign-Affairs-ministry/-/1056/3180962/-/y4f5v9/-/index.html)
The Nation also had an interesting story, in 2015, of a planned Kenya gov't acquisition of monitoring/surveillance technology from Italy but the deal fell through:
There is parallel between Kaz and once-popular Hong Kong singer Gillian Chung (one half of a band called 'Twins') who was one of the many - and I do mean many - girls who were exposed by the infamous - and I do mean infamous - Edison Chen Sex Scandal. Although she publicly apologized, Gillian Chung's career and character suffered greatly: she was dropped from performing at the 2008 Summer Olympics opening ceremony, edited out of two movies, and had her promotional events cancelled. Her subsequent television appearance on TV's Jade Solid Gold triggered over 1,200 complaints to the Hong Kong Broadcasting Authority. She withdrew from public life for more than a year and later confessed to having contemplated suicide.
‘The last week hasn’t been easy; no woman would like to show her body to complete strangers. Much as I am a victim, I feel like I have let you down.’
'...before they leaked, I had lost my camera and I didn’t report it to the police because I didn’t think much about it and I think whoever got the camera leaked them. A week before they were published, one of the writers from Ugandan tabloid Red Pepper called me asking for money or else they would publish the photos. I wouldn’t pay them so they went ahead and published them.'
'Amateur porn' differs from porn proper in that the people involved are not professional pornographers. Often they are young girls who are lured into making a sextape (usually one-off) by the offer of money or other means of persuasion, or are unaware that the sex act is being filmed (especially for an audience).
The best-known brand in amateur porn is probably 'Girls Gone Wild', a video franchise created by American Joe Francis. Joe's film crew traverses the US in branded trailers, looking for nubile young women who would be willing to 'go wild' (usually to flash their boobs). Interacting with college-age girls (the first name Joe dreamt up was actually 'College Girls Gone Wild') at parties, clubs, or other events, the film crew urge revelers to take off their clothes, engage in sexual activities (inside the trailer), or participate in wet T-shirt contests. They later sign 'releases' that allow the resulting films to be commercially distributed.
From the start, the videos caught on like wildfire and Joe Francis (b 1973) gained the image of an ultra-successful young 'entrepreneur'. He lived in a swanky mansion and owned a fleet of luxury cars. Estimates of his net worth varied greatly (especially after he lost much of his fortune due to legal troubles) but at one time most punters pegged his wealth at around 150 million dollars. He was arrested and spent several months in jail for casting an under-age girl in one of his videos. On his release, he appeared on TV's The Tyra Banks Show. The host asked him whether he considers what he does an exploitation of naive girls, since he makes millions while 'all they get is a ('Girls Gone Wild') t-shirt'. Joe denied any wrongdoing and has continued with his video empire (One website calls him 'the king of soft core porn'). He is currently embroiled in legal tussles that include tax evasion and disobeying a court order.
For the 'pretty young things' just out of high school, sure the freedom following prison-like high-school life can tempt you try some 'wild' stuff, like video-recorded sexcapades, but can you imagine the ribbing your children will get, 10 or so years down the line, when their fellow school kids discover that their classmates’ mom has a sex tape online? Imagine how the other parents will regard you during parents-teachers meetings!
With the Internet awash with pornography, it's hard to see why there would be a market for upskirts (low angle shots of the underwear of women in skirts/dresses) and other non-nude but compromising or undignified photos, but there are always perverts afloat. Female celebrities are especially vulnerable to this 'panty cameramen' eg. when stepping out of vehicles. What exacerbates the issue of unsanctioned shots (or secret video/audio-recordings) is that, due to the proliferation of mobile phones, there is camera in every room nowadays.
'A keylogger is a piece of software — or, even scarier, a hardware device — that logs every key you press on your keyboard. It can capture personal messages, passwords, credit card numbers, and everything else you type. Keyloggers are generally installed by malware, but they may also be installed by protective parents, jealous spouses, or employers who want to monitor their employees. Hardware keyloggers are perfect for corporate espionage.'
'Additionally, any legitimate keylogging program can still be used with malicious or criminal intent. Today, keyloggers are mainly used to steal user data relating to various online payment systems, and virus writers are constantly writing new keylogger Trojans for this very purpose...Unlike other types of malicious program, keyloggers present no threat to the system itself. Nevertheless, they can pose a serious threat to users, as they can be used to intercept passwords and other confidential information entered via the keyboard. As a result, cyber criminals can get PIN codes and account numbers for e-payment systems, passwords to online gaming accounts, email addresses, user names, email passwords etc.' - Nikolay Grebennikov,'Keyloggers: How they work and how to detect them' (article)
- The app can read/harvest all your data
- The app can manipulate your data or phone features (like the microphone or camera)
- We own/co-own the content you share on our service/platform
- You may not sue the app makers/owners via a class action suit
- THE APP CAN MONITOR ALL ACTIVITY ON YOUR DEVICE, INCLUDING WHAT YOU DO WITH OTHER APPS
- Terms and Conditions can change at any time and without notice
- You may not criticize this product publicly
Free software is especially suspicious. The reality is that you always pay - either with your money or with your privacy/data. A software product I have always been suspicious of is TrueCaller - a mobile phone app that identifies people who call your cellphone, even if they're not in your contact list. It's too good to be free. So I did a bit of research and just, as I thought, it's dangerous to personal privacy. Here are some insights from an article entitled, 'Don't install Truecaller app on you mobile handsets':
'What the app doesn’t tell you, unless you read the detailed terms of service, is that these numbers then become part of a publicly searchable database. So every time a user downloads the app, his entire phone book becomes part of a public database without the consent of the people who own those numbers. The app’s database, essentially, is a giant, collective phone book...This practice of harvesting phone books is dubious.'
And here's a user complaining about the product, on a personal blog:
'I wonder how many people have been using this application and losing all their personal contact database. Well on a serious note Truecaller is very dangerous app, because all the data of your mobile is easily accessible by the app makers, that could even include your saved passwords, emails, etc'
For more information on this subject, here's a PDF document entitled, 'Software License Agreements: Ignore at Your Own Risk': https://www.us-cert.gov/sites/default/files/publications/EULA.pdf
People speak so much trash, throwing words around,
There’s so much she could say
That’s not her way
…No, people, that’s not her way’
The 'Streisand Effect' is named after American singer/actress Barbra Streisand. A super-rich and ultra-famous celebrity, Ms.Streisand is also notorious for her reclusiveness. In 2003, an environmental group that was taking aerial photos of the Malibu, California, coastline (to document coastal erosion) happened to take a picture of her sprawling mansion. The thousands of images they took were then placed on a website. Streisand sued the photographer for a whooping $50 million, saying that the aerial shot of her residence compromised her security and privacy. Before she kicked up a fuss, the photo had been downloaded only six times, and two of those times were by her own lawyers. But when she pointed it out to the judge, the picture was downloaded an additional 400,000 times, picked up by the Associated Press and reprinted by countless newspapers. And she lost the lawsuit. Sometimes it's better to leave things alone.
A good example of 'The Streisand Effect' was seen in the recent attempt by Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) to censor a YouTube video entitled, 'Same Love' which depicts mild homosexual situations. Until KFCB's CEO Ezekiel Mutua made a stringent call for Google to delete the video, few people (myself included) were even aware of its existence. KFCB's controversial, media-centric campaign against the music video helped it garner mainstream media attention, enviable blogosphere coverage and over 250,000 YouTube views. According to entertainment website Ghafla!: 'Kenya Film Classification Board’s (KFCB) ban on ‘Same Love (Remix)’ has turned out to be more of a blessing than a curse.'
Other victims of 'The Streisand Effect' include:
- Entertainer Kaz (for calling for an end to the distribution of her nude pics)
- DJ Crème De La Crème (for apologizing for his sextape with one Halima Nassir, hence verifying the clip's authenticity)
Those who have wisely avoided 'The Streisand Effect' include:
- Singer Amani (Not commenting on her alleged Ugandan upskirt)
- Former BBA contestant Ann Mbaru (Denying, not to convincingly, that her supposed nude photos/video were genuine)
The Raya Wambui case is an example of a cyber-based character assassination. Circa 2014, a blog juxtaposed images of the light-skinned Raya with nude images of a plus-size model and alleged that the Spoken Word artist had released nude pics in search of fame. A few other blogs repeated the fake news and pics. The thing is that the alleged nudes bear the name of the photographer and Googling it, reveals that he is a foreign photographer who had undertaken a nude pic project with willing plus-size models. Because, I didn't know Raya back when the first blog articles appeared, I thought they were true, which means that there are others who believed it, too. I don't know WHY anyone would want to defame someone they don't even know (What has she ever done to YOU?). She's a beauteous, talented and popular Nairobi artiste. If she was desperate for fame, she could have released better nudes than those and set the blogosphere on fire. But, clearly, that's not her way.
‘In this time of immense difficulty, I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude to those who have stood by me in this trying time. My family, friends, Ntv and my loving fans. I guarantee that it was not my intention that those pictures be circulated and that my privacy be poured out for whoever cares to see. I have been blackmailed before for having nude photos and relentlessly pursued the blackmailers sure I had never posed for any. Unknown to me, photos that I took years ago, alone, in private, with no intention of sharing somehow got into the hands of those that published them...’ - Kleith Kyatuhaire, Style Project presenter on NTV (Uganda), after her nude pics leaked online
Data is written on your computer hard disk drive (HDD) using magnetic principles. Think of the HDD as a giant spread sheet. When data is added to a cell, it is given a name and that name is added to an index, along with a link to the particular cell. When data is 'deleted', the index entry is removed and the related cell is marked as 'available space' BUT THE DATA IS NOT ACTUALLY ERASED. Photo/data recovery software - and there is plenty of it out there, free and commercial - simply reads what is on the cells, ignoring what is in the current index. If you handle sensitive data (eg. you are a gov't department, bank, insurance/financia/medical/security company) or you have confidential information. Never sell or dispose of old computers while the HDDs are still in them. Remove the HDD, install a brand new one and then sell or give away the machine.
There are some software products that make data recovery difficult by 'shredding' it (splicing it and scattering the pieces all over the magnetic surface) or by overwritting user data with hundreds of layers of automatically-generated 'garbage' data (like someone painting over a wall many times so that you won't be able to figure out its original colour). Such 'eraser' software is ultimatley more secure than pressing 'Delete' on your keyboard but to trully get rid of the data, you would have to destroy the disk, eg. by crushing it to bits or throwing it into an inferno.
The Internet makes things harder to delete - by design. The interwebs are supposed to secure data. One of the earliest adopters of the Internet was the Pentagon (the US Department of Defence). During the Cold War, there was a very real threat of nuclear war. The Pentagon loved the idea of this large network that could keep data safe. Even if you nuked a Pentagon facility in one town, all the data it contained could still be available at another location (eg. in another building, town, state or even country). On some social media networks, if you delete data, it becomes invisible to you but is retained on their servers. Some retain your data, legally, even if you delete your entire account.
We are living in an age where ‘everything is your CV’ – your old texts, calls, online posts, videos, photos, comments, speeches etc can came back to haunt you. Some potential employers (and staffing agencies) now scan job applicants’ social media accounts for a glimpse into their real personalities. So, if you have sex tapes, scandals, a rap sheet or nude pics online, the future might not be very bright for you.
‘Many people rush to pull down their Social Media Accounts like Ethel Nabyeya but this does not reduce the effect as the damage is at most times already done. Once these pictures are out there, they are on the internet forever so think twice before sharing anything with your “so called close friends”.
- Use the mouse whenever you can (keylogger software doesn't record mouse-clicks).
‘This is a Kodak moment / Let me get my camera’ – Ray J, ‘Sexy Can I?’ (rap song)
‘I've never seen it (the world-famous sex tape). I made not one dollar. It was stolen property. We made a deal to stop all the shenanigans…I was seven months pregnant with (my son) Dylan and thinking it was affecting the pregnancy with the stress and said, 'I'm not going to court
But according to the Kenyan Constitution, there are situations under which your privacy may be compromised by the gov't. Privacy International:
'However, several recent legal developments have eroded protections against surveillance and expanded the intelligence and law enforcement agencies' interception powers...These acts (The 2012 National Intelligence Service Act, The Prevention of Terrorism Act 2012 and The Security Laws Amendment Act 2014) have been presented as a positive tool to tackle threats to national security in view of the 2013 terrorist attack on the Westgate shopping mall, and Al Shabaab attacks in Mandera in 2014 and Garissa University in 2015.'
Liz Lenjo is an advocate of the high court and partner at Kikao Law firm who specializes in Intellectual Property law, Entertainment, Sports and Media Law. Below is an excerpt from a Bloggers Association of Kenya article on one of her talks:
“Most bloggers and users of social media do not know the kind of defamation suits that they may get from what they publish”, she said. “Slander results from oral untruths. Libel entails published untruths or harmful statements to one’s reputation”, she explained.
“It does not matter whether your source was another blog or a publication. If you publish damaging statements, you are liable for a defamation suit”, she informed us. “The best thing to do is to verify sources of your information, to make sure you are libel free”, she concluded.
If you are a victim of cyber crime, reporting to the police is of course an option but it is also wise to consult IT professionals in order to get a grip on the nature of the crime (Were you hacked remotely? Does your computer contain spyware? Were you a victim of 'phishing'? etc) In the case of Kobi Kihara's online parody account, Kobi consulted both an IT expert and the police. the perpetrator was then nabbed following a 'sting' operation. Cyber laws in Kenya are not very comprehensive and certain cases might be difficult to prosecute. Also, some cyber-crimes (like hacking) can be conducted across borders, further complicating the investigation and litigation process.
Journalist John Walubengo, writing in The Nation:
'Additionally, security training, and more training, is necessary. It does not matter how sophisticated or expensive your security system is if your staff keep falling for common and emerging social engineering (phishing) tricks.
Training should also be extended to the Judiciary and law enforcement. Without an up-to-date judicial system, enacting the pending Data Protection and Cybercrime Acts would be futile, since most hackers would be acquitted for ‘lack of digital evidence’
When privacy advocates oppose unfettered surveillance, they are usually told: 'If you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear (from the loss of privacy)'. That line was actually conceived by none other than Joseph Goebbels - Adolf Hitler's infamous Minister for Propaganda. (Another Goebbels classic is 'A lie repeated a thousand times becomes the truth.') Those if-you-having-nothing-to-hide people are adopting Nazi propaganda techniques. If someone tells you that they don't mind Big Brother surveillance, then ask them to give you their e-mail address and password, mobile phone number and pin number and, Credit/Debit Card number and password. If they decline, then tell them: 'I thought you had NOTHING TO HIDE'. Requiring a modicum of privacy doesn't make you a potential terrorist, it makes you normal. Taking a crap, peeing and making love are all natural things. But if you were to crap on your desk at work, pee in the middle of the street or make love on a park bench, you'd be arrested or sent to a lunatic asylum. Privacy is - or should be - a fundamental human right. As US President Benjamin Franklin once said: 'Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.'
In the famous video below, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden ‘drops a dime’ on massive, state-sponsored surveillance:
Hail Empress Omega, the mother of Rastafari's culture
Give Ises to the King and his Empress Menen
Who showed us the right and the true way of living’
‘People need to start respecting female entertainers, presenters, actors, artists, models, dancers, business women, PR, managers, PAs, singers, stylists, DJs, designers…and generally all positions in the entertainment field in Africa… It’s complicated. Just because I am singing to you in a cute outfit on stage and on your TV does not make me a prostitute.’ (Full article: https://citizentv.co.ke/entertainment/i-am-not-a-prostitute-victoria-kimani-111924/)
But we can change the culture, starting with where we live and work. For example, HR managers and staffers often talk of an 'office culture' ie. work environments often differ from one organization to another - some employees might dress very formally and maintain library-like silence while others have a loose dress code and are rowdy at work. I have been to offices where smartphones, handbags and even cash are left unattended on desktops with no resultant complaints, and I have been to office premises downtown where if you place your phone a desktop, it will immediately vanish. Along the same lines, there are estates IN NAIROBI where people don't lock their doors when they leave the house (I've seen this with my own eyes) but in most Nairobi estates, that would be unthinkable! Sure, the crime-free estates are gated but that's beside the point. When I lived in Lang'ata, for example (Onyonka Estate), you had to keep your personal gate padlocked and your front door shut at all times. The crime rate was alarmingly high. I opened a video game centre nearby and it was soon robbed, along with two neighbouring shops (One at gunpoint). Another time, a family in the nearby Southlands Estate was having a party when two armed men stormed in, robbed the guests, herded them into one bedroom, and then sat in the living room - waiting for more guests to arrive! (And both Onyonka and Southlands are gated estates).
Alexander Nderitu is Kenyan e-book pioneer and the Deputy-Secretary General of PEN Kenya Centre. Website: www.AlexanderNderitu.com
Legal notice: Lyrics and blog/book excerpts are sampled here in accordance with Kenyan ‘Fair Dealing’ laws (Category: ‘Research’)