Kenya's Aggressive Plan To Shut Off "Illegal" Mobile Phones

Looking for a 21st-Century way to stamp out social unrest - and hand a pile of new revenue to mobile phone makers? Easy. Declare millions of phones "illegal" and turn them off.

That's what is expected to happen Sept. 30 in Kenya, whose leaders say they are shocked to learn that mobile phones might leak dangerous amounts of radiation, especially counterfeit phones.

So, in order to protect the health of its 29 million mobile owners - as well as the health of aggrieved phone makers including Samsung and Nokia - the Kenyan government says it is switching off all unlicensed SIM cards at the end of the month.

The Communications Committee of Kenya says one in 10 mobiles in that strife-torn African nation are no more legitimate than the Gucci clutches sold on the street corners of Manhattan.

The agency has also said that ridding the populace of counterfeits will help “secure the country from the threat of terrorism, lawlessness and political violence.” Read to the bottom here.

Fake phones being harder to track than genuine articles, they are more likely to be in the hands of criminals. Of the poor and disenfranchised, too, but mostly criminals. Who plan their crimes on their phones. At least that's the story.

Coincidentally, Kenya is preparing for its next round of elections, in March. Riots after the nation’s 2007 elections claimed more than 1,000 lives.

Stifling political dissent aside, the move theoretically means 3 million more potential sales for phone makers, something that struggling Nokia might have noticed.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.