Propagators of hate speech and peddlers of fake news are now a wanted lot after president Uhuru Kenyatta signed into law the controversial computer and cyber crimes bill 2018 which imposes hefty fines and punitive jail terms for those found guilty.
Also targeted by the new law are WhatsApp group administrators who allow sharing of fake news or information meant to incite ethnic hatred.
The Act, which spells out stiff punishment to cybercriminals, provides for timely and effective detection, prohibition, prevention, response, investigation and prosecution of computer and cybercrimes.
This includes search and seizure of stored computer data, record of and access to seized data, production order for data, expedited preservation, partial disclosure, real-time collection and interception of data.
Kenya has criminalized online offences including publication of false information, cyber espionage and cyber bullying among others.
Kenya signs bill criminalising fake news
The assent comes at the time when experts requested Kenyatta to return the bill to Parliament for further discussion to ensure the law would not interfere with the freedom of expression and media freedom.
The goal of the Bill is to "protect the confidentiality, integrity and availability of computer systems, programs and data", "prevent the unlawful use of computer systems", "facilitate the investigation and prosecution of cybercrimes", and "facilitate worldwide co-operation on matters".
Most offences related to online harassment have previously been charged through the ancient Penal Code and the NCIC Act.
On May 10, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) beseeched the Kenyan president to not sign the Bill.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, DP William Ruto, Aden Duale and others at State House on May, 16, 2018.
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