By Jacktone Ambuka
Kenya’s president Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta today signed into law the Computer and Cyber Crimes Bill 2017 which was overwhelmingly passed by parliament. This law effectively:-
a] Criminalizes sharing of pornography through various electronic platforms such as social media, texts and emails. Offender will be slapped with a maximum fine of Sh300,000 or 30 years in prison or both.
b] Criminalizes false publication. Offenders will be slapped with a 2 year jail sentence or a fine of 5m or both.
c] Criminalizes sharing of child pornography. Offenders will be slapped with 25 years in prison or fine of Sh20 million or both.
d] Criminalizes cyberterrorism. Offenders will be slapped with a maximum fine of Sh5 million or 10 years in prison or both.
e] Criminalizes cyberstalking and bullying with far reaching consequences.
f] Authorizes authorities to search and seize personal computer data deemed injurious and collect and intercept information at will.
From the face value, this act appear perfect and timely to curb runaway cube crimes. In fact, in my opinion, it is 95% perfect. But the 5% That is imperfect is too dangerous and open to abuse by government.
Critical analysis of this act within the Kenyan political context particularly the aforementioned part B will be flagrantly abused by authorities in the pretense of enforcing the law to institute frivolous charges against citizens who oppose or criticize the government.
Giving Kenyan authorities powers to decide which news is false and which one is truthful is like mandating the leopard to choose between a good and bad goat. To a leopard, all goats are same and good for consumption at will. In fact, the first causality of this law will be media houses, government critics and the bloggers.
Importantly, Kenyan authorities are predisposed by political motivations to use part B above to infringe on and violate articles 33, 34 and 35 of the Kenyan constitution that guarantees freedoms of expression, media and information. That’s why sections of this law should be declared null, void and unconstitutional.