Kenya's president signs cybercrimes law opposed by media rights groups

President Uhuru Kenyatta signs Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Bill 2018 and Public Trustee Bill 2018 at State House in Nairobi

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.

It deals with offences relating to computer systems including but not limited to unauthorised access, unauthorised interference, unauthorised interception, unauthorised disclosure of passwords, cyber espionage, false publications, child pornography, cyber terrorism and wrongful distribution of obscene or intimate images.

Following the President assent to the Bill, Kenyans took to social media to air their views.

Former Law Society of Kenya chief executive Apollo Mboya said the context of "false information" will give the authorities a free opportunity to gag the media.

The country has been grappling over fake news control due to an existing lacuna in the law which has since been sealed.

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The offence leads to a fine not exceeding twenty million or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding twenty five years, or to both. The law also targets those who alter information through Photoshop.

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

President Uhuru Kenyatta has assented to the Computer and Cybercrimes Bill, 2017.

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi presented the Bills and witnessed the signing alongside Deputy President William Ruto, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i, National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale, Attorney General Paul Kihara Kariuki and Solicitor General Kennedy Ogeto.

Before Kenyatta signed the Bill, there were demands to have Parliament review the law to make sure that it does not violate the right to media freedom and expression, according to the newspaperThe Daily Nation.

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