Uhuru signs into law computer misuse and Cybercrimes Bill

Uhuru signs into law computer misuse and Cybercrimes Bill

Uhuru signs into law computer misuse and Cybercrimes Bill

On Wednesday, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta signed a lengthy new Bill into law, criminalising cybercrimes including fake news, cyberbullying and cyberespionage.

The bill had generated a lot of debate due to several contentious clauses that many rights activists termed as an infringement to Kenyans freedom of expression.

Uhuru Kenyatta_Cyber Crime
President Uhuru Kenyatta DP William Ruto Aden Duale and others at State House on May 16 2018

Under the new law, anyone who intentionally publishes false, misleading or fictitious data or misinforms, with or without any financial gain, commits an offense and shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine of up to $50,000 or imprisonment for up to 10 years.

WhatsApp group administrators who condone sharing of fake news or information meant to incite ethnic hatred are also marked for severe punishment. The law's broadly worded provisions and possible jail terms are ripe for abuse by public officials looking to silence critical reporting online. He has assented into law Cyber Crime Bill.

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Reports indicate that the Cyber crimes Act provides for offences relating to computer systems including; unauthorised access, unauthorised disclosure of passwords, cyber espionage, publication of false information, child pornography among others. Sharing of fake news and propagating hate speech will attract a Sh5 million fine or a two-year prison sentence, or both.

The Act also deals with computer forgery, computer fraud, cyber harassment, publication of false information, cybersquatting, identity theft and impersonation, phishing, interception of electronic messages or money transfers, willful misdirection of electronic messages and fraudulent use of electronic data among other cyber crimes.

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The Bills were presented to the President for signing by National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi.

Last week, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) urged President Kenyatta not to sign into law to the Bill, saying it stifles press freedom.

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Earlier, Esipisu had promised CPJ that presidency would consider reservations raised about the Bill before signing it into law.

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