Bloggers, cyber spies face jail as Kenyatta signs controversial law

Bloggers, cyber spies face jail as Kenyatta signs controversial law

Bloggers, cyber spies face jail as Kenyatta signs controversial law

In a Cyber Crime law Bill assented into law by the Head of State on Wednesday, the country will also penalise heavily those spreading hate-speech on electronic media platforms.

The Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act is aimed at punishing cyber fraud and illegal hacking.

Also targeted by the new law are WhatsApp group administrators who allow sharing of fake news or information meant to incite ethnic hatred.

Under the new law, using a phone or computer to commit crime could send you to prison for two years and cost you Sh5 million.

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The offence leads to a fine not exceeding twenty million or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding twenty five years, or to both.

President Uhuru Kenyatta during the signing of the bill.

Additionally, 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" can be fined $50 000 or jailed for up to 10 years.

The Act also spells out stiff punishment for cyber-criminals in offences such as unauthorised access, unauthorised interference, unauthorised interception, unauthorised disclosure of passwords and cyber harassment.

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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.

According to the government, the Act contains provisions that will facilitate worldwide co-operation in dealing with computer and cybercrime matters including expedited disclosure of preserved traffic data. This Bill amends various provisions of the Public Trustee Act, bringing it into conformity with the Constitution.

Before Kenyatta signed the Bill, there were demands to have Parliament review the law to make sure that it does not violate the right to media freedom and expression, according to the newspaperThe Daily Nation.

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