The Link:How a Telecommunications Giant Become Big Brother in Kenya
Big Brother in Kenya
The merriam-webster dictionary defines Big brother as “an all-powerful government or organization monitoring and directing people’s actions”.
Ever since the tech boom we’ve been experiencing in Kenya there have been two major players that are the foundation of this nations data communications backbone, Safaricom and Huawei.
Safaricom is a cash cow for key stakeholders, the later comes from a nation where the government openly spies and monitors its citizens and privacy is laughed at. It is also banned from doing telecoms business in Australia and the USA who are both members of the five eyes, did our government miss something?
Read the C.I.A that led Australia to banning Huawei here
We as subscribers produce large amounts of data from our day to day activities, this data is like a trail of breadcrumbs. To some this data trail has no value but they are some who see gold where there is user generated data, in this article we shall look at some of the ways your data is being used.
Bob Knows All !
Mobile money is a treasure trove of information, Bob knows how much you have left in your account. He knows how much you spent last night out with “the boys”. He even knows the person you are most likely to call as soon you receive money. He knows that you are more likely to go have a drink than pay down your loan.
Bob has the ability to know the likelihood of you paying a loan back on time or not.This is all possible with the use of algorithms and i’m sure Bob has invested in some sort of Artificial Intelligence to sort all this data generated by us.
Now he’s in my house too! Bob is giving us high speed internet direct to the house, this just means more data points for Bob to collect information from.
He now knows your internet usage habits, he knows what sites you visit, how long you stay on those sites and what you are looking at on those sites. Bob even knows what site your are most likely to shop on when that money checks into your account.
Whether you like it or not, Bob knows where you are at all times day and night. Our phones are forever communicating with cellular towers to ensure that we always stay connected. To make it worse, our phones love free wifi hot spots.
With this you can consider Bob as your guardian angel for he always knows where you are at all times.
Who you call, how often you call them and when you call them; My suspicion is that big brother Bob has the ability to pull up a conversation that you had with your mistress last week if need be!
Voice is simply stored on Bobs servers in the form of digital signals. The voice signals are Bob’s property and can be stored there for as long as law says. If something were to happen to you and the good ole boys in blue needed to pull out evidence they know where to go..or do they ?
Bob,Big Data and Artificial Intelligence
With the vast amount of data generated by its over 14 million subscribers, no organic algorithm can make sense of all this big data, for that we need Artificial Intelligence or A.I. Recent breakthroughs in A.I have opened up new discussion as to the use of such powerful technology in the hands of the wrong people vis a vi nuclear power.
Perhaps Bob is already putting this A.I to good use, catching terrorist and criminals before they act. Bob could even catching money launderers and drug dealers you read this article.
My question to Bob is how do the Australian and American diplomats living and working in Kenya go about their business? Im sure that the same report that led them to ban Huawei in their own home nations is the same report they read while in Kenya.
Patterns, Correlations and Trends
With his big data analytics Bob can now begin to analyze patterns, trends and correlations of our daily lives. He will be able to monitor, predict and even influence human behaviour just by having access to this data.
Data trends such us spending habits, saving habits. Trends in how much we spend in regards to the weather. How much we spend versus how much we save at any given time. Bob will be able to idenitfiy which demographic has the buying power and which demographic is likely to soon suffer from Cirrhosis!
The uses of this amount of big data is limitless. It can assist in the design of future cities. Predict socio-economic based behavior and make future expansion plans for Bobs empire more efficient.
On the other hand it can also be used in a negative way, monitoring certain individuals or groups of individuals. It can be used to influence the buying habits of certain demographic of people and it can also be used to endebt a certain demographic people but that’s a story for another blog.
All in all whether you want to believe it or not Bob has tremendous power. They say “he who has the information has the power ! ”, Bob seems to have it all from your bank details to your favorite youtube channel Bob knows all!
Now am not saying boycott Bob. All i’m trying to put across is that as connected Kenyans we should all know what kind of data our service providers collect from us. We should know what they do with this data; who has access to this data and how long they keep this data for.
So next time you download a banking app, ask yourself why does an app that manages your money need access to your camera, gallery and contacts?
By the way all of this is strictly my own opinion, Have a data filled day!