Kenya signs bill criminalising fake news

Kenyatta signs controversial cybercrime bill

The President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta has signed a new law that criminalizes fake news and online bullying as part of efforts to fight cyber-crime.

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.

Following the passing of the Bill, generating and spreading fake news on social media could now land you in jail for at least five years, or leave you with millions of shillings to pay in court fines.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has assented to the Computer and Cybercrimes Bill, 2017.

The Garissa Township lawmaker at the same time says the stiffer penalties outlined in the Act such as the Sh5 million or two years of imprisonment for anyone found spreading hate speech is fitting.

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.

Kenyatta signs controversial cybercrime bill
Kenya signs bill criminalising fake news

Previous attempts to impose some control on social media users were met with accusations that the government was out to limit free speech.

The Act establishes the National Computer and Cybercrimes Coordination Committee and facilitates global co-operation in dealing with computer and cybercrime 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.

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.

It 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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