Computer and Cybercrimes Bill Enacted into Law in Kenya as media and rights groups oppose move

President Uhuru Kenyatta enacted Computer and Cybercrimes Bill, 2017 citing a two year jail term or Kshs 5 million fine for spreading fake news.

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The President’s decision is facing protests with many Kenyans claiming it is a move to suppress not only media freedom but citizens’ freedom of speech.

The new law also provided for offences relating to computer systems, cyber espionage, false publications, child pornography, computer forgery, computer fraud, cyber stalking and cyber bullying, aiding or abetting in the commission of an offence.

Offences relating to computer systems, a fine not exceeding five million shillings or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years, or to both.

Cybersecurity cost Kenya over Sh21.2 billion in 2017 coming a close second to Nigeria that lost Sh65.5 billion.

According to a recent Cyber Security report by Serianu that showed that Africa lost Sh350 billion to cybersecurity with financial institutions most affected.

The new law has made allowances to mitigate this with hackers facing a fine of Sh5 million shillings or a three-year jail term or both for unauthorised access, interference, interception, and disclosure of passwords and cyber espionage.

Hackers will also be liable to a Sh10 million fine or 10 years in jail, or both if they commit any other crimes defined in the Bill once they illegally gain access.

Those found guilty of spreading or in possession child pornography face a fine of Sh20 million or 25 years in prison or both.

Lawmakers passed the bill last month despite protests from media practitioners and rights activists that its provisions could be used to stifle press freedoms.

Kenya joins other countries in the region that have passed laws that activists say will curtail free expression.

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