Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday signed into law the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Bill 2018 that criminalizes abuse of persons on social media, removing the legal lacuna that existed.
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,” said Kenyatta in a statement issued in Nairobi.
The president signed the Bill despite opposition from the global media freedom watchdog, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) which had called on Kenyatta not to sign the Bill because it will stifle press freedom.
“We urge President Kenyatta to refer it back to Parliament so that members can ensure that its provisions are constitutional and do not violate the right to media freedom and free expression,” said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Angela Quintal in a statement issued on May 10.
The bill, among other provisions, criminalizes the publication of false news and stipulates hefty fines and lengthy prison terms for those found guilty of the offense.
According to Kenyatta, the Act establishes the National Computer and Cybercrimes Coordination Committee and facilitates international cooperation in dealing with computer and cybercrime matters.
It deals with offences relating to computer systems including but not limited to unauthorized access, unauthorized interference, unauthorized interception, unauthorized disclosure of passwords, cyber espionage, false publications, child pornography, cyber terrorism and wrongful distribution of obscene or intimate images.
The Act also deals with computer forgery, computer fraud, cyber harassment, publication of false information, cybersquatting, identity theft and impersonation, phishing, interception of electronic messages or money transfers, willful misdirection of electronic messages and fraudulent use of electronic data among other cyber crimes.