FRIDAY 15TH June 2012… Leading integrated communications provider, Safaricom Limited has today become the first mobile service provider to announce tough new guidelines aimed at reining in negative political messages ahead of the next General Election.

These guidelines will apply to all licensed Content Service Providers seeking to communicate Political Messages to the electorate on behalf of politicians through the use of various messaging services provided by Safaricom including Short Message Service (SMS).  Safaricom has indicated that it will suspend or terminate contracts of Content Service Providers who fail to comply with the rules.

Explaining the rationale for these guidelines Company CEO Bob Collymore said, “We are taking an early stand to ensure that our mobile network, which is relied upon by over 19 million Kenyans, is not used as a platform to spread hatred and/or incite the populace to violence through the dissemination of hate-speech via mobile based messaging. We recognise that mobile technology has the potential to contribute both positively and negatively to the wellbeing of the Nation before, during and after the electoral process.”

In the new guidelines, Safaricom will vet political messages to ensure that hate speech is not spread through its SMS platform. In addition, the Company has sought to protect subscribers from unsolicited messages by requiring Content Service Providers (CSP) to seek subscriber consent before sending out political messages.

Safaricom is also seeking a consultative approach from various industry and electoral process players to develop a uniform platform to guide mobile technology based political messages.  It has in this regard invited the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK), the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC), Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and the Registrar of Political Parties of Kenya to discuss political messaging ahead of the elections.

“We must confront the issue of mobile based political advertising as stakeholders before it is too late and certainly before it is used to cause chaos in Kenya “stated, Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore.

Download the guidelines here