The High Court has thrown a spanner in the works for gaming operators’ use of speed dials in browsers for advertising. This move follows a directive from Justice Lawrence Mugambi.

In an agreement reached in the High Court, gaming companies are to hit pause on using speed dial ads. This comes while the main case from the Consumers Federation of Kenya (Cofek) awaits a verdict.

What’s a Speed Dial Ad?

Ever noticed those thumbnail images on your browser showing your most-visited pages? That’s a speed dial. Gaming firms have been using these for ads, but the regulator flagged this last year, pointing out that these ads could reach a diverse and vulnerable audience, including minors.

Justice Mugambi declared, “An order is hereby issued to BCLB directing all gaming operators to cease using speed dials.” The case is set to continue on May 9, tackling other unresolved issues.

Cofek’s Battle Against Predatory Ads

Cofek has taken up the fight against what they call ‘predatory speed dials’, suing not just the BCLB but also the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA), the ICT Ministry, the Data Protection Commissioner, and the Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK). They argue that these bodies have failed to properly regulate the internet, leading to rampant, uncensored advertising that could harm consumers, especially the young ones.

The growth of gambling and the issuance of numerous licenses by the BCLB, according to Cofek, has led to aggressive marketing strategies like the unregulated use of speed dial features. They express concern over the risks this poses to all internet users, including children, in the age of growing technology use.

Stephen Mutoro, Cofek’s Secretary General, emphasizes in his affidavit the duty of the BCLB Board and other respondents to ensure access to information that is accurate, pure, and free from manipulation, upholding both moral and legal responsibilities.

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