Uhuru signs controversial bill into law

Evarado Alatorre
May 17, 2018

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

The Act, which spells out stiff punishment to cybercriminals, provides for timely and effective detection, prohibition, prevention, response, investigation and prosecution of computer and cybercrimes. He has assented into law Cyber Crime Bill.

Another clause introduced by the MPs on April 26 provided that anyone found guilty of publishing false information that "is calculated or results in panic, chaos, or violence" or that is "likely to discredit the reputation of a person" is liable for a fine of Sh5 million and/or 10 years in prison.

"It has a very good Bill and the public should be aware about the penalties because going forward it will not be business as usual", said Duale on Wednesday at Parliament buildings.

President Uhuru Kenyatta in a past event.

Such crimes were listed as; cyber espionage, computer fraud, unauthorised access, interference and interception to security systems as well as use of illegal devices and access codes.

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

Offenders could be fined up to $50 000 or be jailed up to two years in prison, or both.

Critics however saw the bill as an attempt by the government to muzzle social media users and regulate information flow, especially on issues relating to graft, human rights violations and other social ills that have been exposed by a robust online community.

The goal of the Bill is to "protect the confidentiality, integrity and availability of computer systems, programs and data", "prevent the unlawful use of computer systems", "facilitate the investigation and prosecution of cybercrimes", and "facilitate global co-operation on matters".

Ahead of the signing, there were numerous petitions from the public, civic society groups and the media against some of the provisions in the Bill.

Last week, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called on Kenyatta not to sign into law a cybercrimes warning that It will it will stifle press freedom.

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