Kenya Protests Move By U.S. to List It as Signatory to Declaration Promoting Free Internet

Nairobi — The government has protested a move by the United States to list Kenya as a signatory to Declaration for the future of internet terming it as erroneous.

Government Spokesperson Cyrus Oguna said Thursday protocol was not followed in the signing of the declaration that is aimed to protect an open, safe internet.

"While we are listed as a signatory to the declaration, we wish to state that, as a country, we have not gone through our processes and laws for endorsing this declaration. As per our laws, Kenya can only be a signatory to any international instrument after Cabinet approval, and ratification by the National Assembly," he said.

According to White House, Kenya is among the 55 countries which were listed to have joined the effort in promoting an open, free, global, interoperable, reliable, and secure internet for the world.

"The said declaration is going through review and based on the outcome of the process, Kenya will be able to state her position on the matter," Oguna said.

Other nations include: Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany and Japan, along with others like Argentina, Cyprus, Montenegro and Slovenia, as well as Ukraine.

Labeled the Declaration for the Future of the Internet (DFI), the White House said the aim is to reclaim "the immense promise" of the internet, pushing back against "rising digital authoritarianism" to ensure it reinforces democracy, protects privacy and promotes a free global economy.

Pointing to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, a senior administration official said in recent months Moscow "has aggressively promoted disinformation at home and abroad, censored internet news sources, blocked or shut down legitimate sites" and attacked internet access in Ukraine.

"Russia, however, is hardly alone," the official said, citing China as well.

While not legally binding, the declaration establishes "fundamental principles" and "commits governments to promoting an open, free, global, interoperable, reliable, and secure internet for the world," another senior administration official said.

The effort aims to combat the splintering of the internet, but will "respect regulatory autonomy" of each country, the official said.

The declaration also points to the need ensure affordable access for underserved groups.

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