Over the past several days, active users of Telegram in Kenya have experienced intermittent service disruptions. Specifically, at certain times throughout the day, the ability to send or receive messages on the platform has been notably impaired. This issue has persisted for a while, and, intriguingly, the only workaround seems to be the use of a Virtual Private Network (VPN) set to a different geographical location, which suggests a region-specific problem.
This phenomenon of service disruption coincides with a recent controversial event. Prior to these frequent downtimes, there was an announcement alleging that the ongoing Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations were being leaked through Telegram channels. This correlation raises a significant question: is the access to Telegram being deliberately restricted during specific times of the day to prevent further leaks? If this is the case, such actions appear to be undertaken covertly, without any formal declaration or legal justification, leaving users in a state of uncertainty and frustration.
Alternatively, if the disruptions are not a result of deliberate intervention, it is incumbent upon Telegram to provide a clear explanation to its Kenyan users. The lack of transparency surrounding these outages is concerning, especially given the platform’s critical role in communication.
More broadly, if it is confirmed that access to Telegram is being intentionally hindered, it sets a worrying precedent. It would signify a shift towards a more controlled internet environment in Kenya, where the government or other entities might feel empowered to block access to certain applications or websites at their discretion. The absence of official announcements, court orders, or any form of documentation in such scenarios exacerbates the issue, as it undermines the principles of transparency and accountability in governance.
This situation thus presents two critical concerns. Firstly, the need for immediate clarity and transparency from the relevant authorities or from Telegram regarding the nature of these service disruptions. Secondly, it highlights the broader implications for internet freedom in Kenya, underscoring the importance of vigilant monitoring and advocacy to safeguard digital rights and freedoms.