KRA Has Plans To Spy On Your WhatsApp Conversations

kenya revenue authority

KRA has plans to spy on your WhatsApp conversations.

The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) is constructing a sophisticated forensic laboratory that will allow it to harvest data from taxpayers’ computers and mobile phones in order to uncover tax and financial misconduct, including secret accounts and records.

The move by KRA’s newly established intelligence management division coincides with a significant transition in company transactions and record-keeping from traditional paper-based accounting systems to online transactions and electronic record-keeping.

The forensic gathering, extraction, and finding of electronic evidence will be the focus of the digital lab, according to KRA.

“A lot of evidence gathered during the course of investigations is digital in nature such as e-mails, texts, video, audio, image files, and other transactional data on hard disks and other storage media,” the agency said in a disclosure on the new laboratory.

“The investigations of such crimes require sophisticated data acquisition, mining, analytics, and storage tools in addition to technical expertise to reconstruct the transactions and provide insights into complex crimes,” it added.

Many significant firms, including some multinationals and mobile phone carriers, now give KRA staff soft copy records of their transactions.

Online transactions

However, the change to internet transactions has posed a challenge for tax audit and investigation teams, since some businesses have begun to conceal their true financial activities and accounts. Furthermore, tax inspectors and auditors have found it difficult to gain complete access to all data from computers or phones seized during investigations into suspected fraud or tax evasion due to a password security option in digital records.

KRA has revealed that it will use specialized software to gain access to data on Macintosh computers, iPhones, iPads, and other devices.

In bidding for supplies to the forensic lab, the taxman revealed himself:

“The tool should also be compatible and have the ability to extract, and analyse data from all types of phones and tablets, should include the full range of peripherals and accessories needed for mobile forensic investigations, including connectors … faraday bags, memory card readers, SIM and micro-SIM ID Cloning cards, camera of capturing images of the data or screenshots directly from the device…” 

KRA put allocated Sh31.19 million in its budget for the financial year ending June 30, 2021, to acquire an information gathering system as it ramps up its assault on tax evasion.

KRA has imposed strict constraints on businesses as part of its digital intelligence collection, mandating them to purchase internet-based electronic tax registers (ETRs) and connect them to its networks for real-time surveillance of their daily transactions. The two technologies will provide KRA with a view of items as they leave the factory through the point of exchange between merchants and customers, allowing them to collect what is owed at each stage of the supply chain.

Do you think this new exercise by the KRA will be successful?