NAIROBI, KENYA: Kenyans will have to verify kind of news distributed to avoid heavy penalties under the new Computer and Cybercrimes Bill now passed into law.
On Wednesday, Secretary, Communication and State House Spokesperson Manoah Esipisu tweeted that President Uhuru has signed into law the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Bill, 2018.
Under the new law, a person who intentionally publishes false, misleading or fictitious data or misinforms with intent that the data shall be considered or acted upon as authentic, with or without any financial gain, commits an offence and shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding Sh5million or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or to both.
The new law also contains stiff penalties on child pornography, computer forgery, and espionage among others.
It states that if one unlawfully obtains data or perform a prohibited act inorder to gain access to critical data with the intention to directly or indirectly benefit a foreign state against the Republic of Kenya, commits an offence and is liable, on conviction, to imprisonment for a period not exceeding twenty years or to a fine not exceeding Sh10 million, or to both.
Those found guilty of publishing child pornography are liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding twenty million or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding twenty-five years, or to both.
It targets individual who intentionally publishes child pornography through a computer system, produces child pornography for the purpose of its publication through a computer system, or possesses child pornography in a computer system or on a computer data storage medium.
ICT Expert Godfrey Osotsi says the new law will firmly deal with cyber bullying and cybercrime incidences in the country.
“Cybercrime is real and cybercrime is big; it is estimated that annually the whole world losses about Sh60 trillion: the crime is real and the law ought to have been in place like yesterday,” he says.
He says the new law will also protect unreported cases from financial institutions who are major target of cybercrime activities. He says that for instance banks in 2017 lost a whooping Sh18 billion in a crime which has also not spared government institutions.
He noted that the new law will also deal with people spreading false information on social media platforms like facebook. “We have seen people posting on social media that one is dead yet it is not true, such people will now be dealt with by the new law,” he added.
Cases of cyber bullying have also been reported in places like parliament with members of Parliament protesting the rate at which they were being targeted by the criminals.
Two months ago the legislatures revealed how they have been conned off money and others complaining of receiving disturbing photos and messages from criminals who access their mobile phone numbers.
“These criminals have somehow found our numbers and keep sending very dangerous photographs, some of them you may not even stand watching them with naked eyes, as they show parts of human anatomy that are disturbing,” complained Minority Whip Junet Mohammed.
Murang’a Women Representative Sabina Chege triggered the revelations by MPs who disclosed how they are either conned by people who pose as needy constituents requesting financial help.
In reaction to the new law, Kenyan bloggers (BAKE) noted that part of it will affect freedom of expression in the country.
Kennedy Kachwanya, the bloggers association chairman says writers are foresseing a situation where the government will in the future dismiss information published against them that is not positive as fake news.
“Some sections of the new law needs to be challenged to block situations where one just says information is fake simply because it doesn’t favor them.”