Kenya: Court Suspends Cybercrime Act Pending Bloggers' Case

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Nairobi — The High Court has suspended implementation of the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act, 2018 pending conclusion of a case by bloggers.

Justice John Mativo Judge says the case by the petitioners raises arguable points of law.

In their case, the bloggers have protested against the implementation of the Act, signed into law some two weeks ago.

Aggrieved by President Uhuru Kenyatta's move, the Bloggers Association of Kenya argues that the Act infringes on freedom of expression and the right to privacy.

They say if the Act is implemented, over 51.1 million Internet users in the country risk being prosecuted given the vague and overboard terminologies in the Act.

The Act criminalizes abuse of persons on social media.

Through the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act, 2018, the National Government is going to establish a National Computer and Cybercrimes Coordination Committee.

The committee, according to the Act, "shall report to the Cabinet Secretary responsible for matters relating to internal security and, have key functions."

- Functions of the Committee -

It will be tasked with advising the government on security-related aspects, "touching on matters relating to blockchain technology, critical infrastructure, mobile money and trust accounts."

The committee will also advise the National Security Council on computer and cybercrimes.

It will also be required to develop a framework to facilitate "the availability, integrity, and confidentiality of critical national information infrastructure including telecommunications and information systems of Kenya."

It will also coordinate collection and analysis of cyber threats and response to cyber incidents that threaten cyberspace of the country.

Its scope will be inside and outside the country.

- Offences provided in the Act -

The Act provides for offences relating to computer systems such as unauthorized access, unauthorized disclosure of passwords, cyber espionage, publication of false information, child pornography among others.

It will also cover areas of computer forgery, computer fraud, cyber harassment, cybersquatting, cyber harassment, identity theft and impersonation, phishing, interception of electronic messages or money transfers, wilful misdirection of electronic messages, cyber terrorism and wrongful distribution of obscene or intimate image, and fraudulent use of electronic data.

According to clause 12 of the Act, publishing of false or fictitious information will attract a Sh5 million fine or a two-year jail term.

Those found guilty of spreading child pornography face a fine of Sh20 million or 25 years in prison or both.

Cyber terrorism, according to the law attracts a maximum of Sh5 million in fines or 10 years in prison or both.

According to the government, the Act contains provisions that will facilitate international co-operation in dealing with computer and cybercrime matters including expedited disclosure of preserved traffic data.

The cooperation will also extend to mutual assistance among authorities regarding access of stored computer data, trans-border access to computer data, mutual assistance in the real-time collection of traffic data and mutual assistance in matters relating to the interception of content data.

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