Millions of Safaricom Subscribers allowed to Join a Class Action Lawsuit Over Data Privacy Concerns

A recent ruling by a Kenyan High Court judge has given millions of Safaricom subscribers the green light to join a class action lawsuit against the telecoms provider. The suit centers around a clause in the SIM card registration process that allows the company to collect and store the bank details of mobile phone users.

The clause in question, Clause 3.2.1 in the data privacy statement, requires subscribers to provide information such as credit or debit card details, bank account numbers, and Swift codes as part of the SIM card registration process. The court has authorized two senior counsels, Wilfred Nderitu and Charles Kanjama, to invite other subscribers to join the suit and have them remove this clause from the registration process.
The lawyers argue that Safaricom’s dominant market position in Kenya forced subscribers to accept this clause, as they had no other options to access mobile services. Safaricom currently holds a 66% market share, while its closest competitors, Airtel and Telkom Kenya, save 26.3% and 4.9%, respectively.

It is not the first class action suit against Safaricom and the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA), the sector regulator. A customer filed a previous claim over SIM Swap fraud, which has seen scammers drain millions of shillings from mobile phone subscribers’ bank accounts. The outcome of this case is still pending.

Justice Mwita has also ordered Safaricom and the CA to file their defense within seven days and will hear again on March 14. The plaintiffs, Nderitu and Kanjama, seek a temporary order to stop Safaricom from collecting and storing their personal financial information, arguing that this violates their rights and could cause harm that cannot compensate through damages.

This class action suit serves as a wake-up call for the significance of data privacy and security in the digital era. It also emphasizes the necessity for consumers to pay attention to the clauses in the terms and conditions of the services they use and holds companies accountable for collecting and using personal information. The general public and the industry will closely monitor the outcome of this case.


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