Court upholds cybercrime law

Harassing and stalking someone on social media, hacking into protected systems and sharing fake news can now earn you a 10-year prison sentence.

It could also see you slapped with a Sh20 million fine or both.

This comes after the High Court declared the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Bill, 2018 constitutional, dealing a blow to social media users, bloggers, journalists and free speech advocates in the country.

High Court Judge James Makau yesterday dismissed a legal challenge by the Bloggers Association of Kenya (Bake) seeking to suspend 26 controversial clauses of the law pending constitutional review.

While Judge Makau did not immediately give the full ruling, he dismissed the petition in its entirety, effectively bringing the law into force, pending an appeal to the decision.

“This ruling threatens the freedoms that Kenyans have fought for and which are enshrined in our Constitution,” said Bake Chairperson Kennedy Kachwanya.

“We are concerned that the State and other actors may use this law to target and intimidate bloggers and other online users, and so it is our intention to immediately appeal this decision,” he said.

The lobby further claimed that the ruling sneaks back criminal defamation provisions that were earlier declared unconstitutional by the same court.

The Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Bill, 2018, popularly known as Cybercrimes Bill, introduces penalties for cyber-bullying and fake news that many fear might be misused to suppress legitimate criticism or free speech online.