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October 17, 2018

Cybercrime law targets bloggers, media

Blogger Cyprian Nyakundi at a Milimani law court./COLLINS KWEYU
Blogger Cyprian Nyakundi at a Milimani law court./COLLINS KWEYU

The law provides for offences relating to computer systems, to enable timely and effective detection, investigation and prosecution of computer and cybercrimes; to facilitate international cooperation in dealing with computer and cybercrime and for related purposes.

The Act seeks to:

1. Protect confidentiality, integrity and availability of computer systems, programs and data;

2. Prevent unlawful use of computer systems;

3. Facilitate prevention, detection, investigation, prosecution and punishment of cybercrimes;

4. Protect rights to privacy, freedom of expression and access to information guaranteed under the Constitution; and

5. Facilitate international cooperation.

Under the Act, the Director of the National Computer Cybercrime Coordination Committee is required to gazette critical infrastructure. It is considered critical if disruption results in:

a) Interruption of life-sustaining service ( eg, water, health, energy)

b) Adverse effect on the economy

c) Massive casualties or fatalities

d) Disruption of money market

e) Disruption of national security

False Publications is one of the most serious offences. The Act provides that one who intentionally publishes false data or misinforms, intending data shall be considered or acted upon as authentic, with or without any financial gain, will be liable to a fine or imprisonment.

This will affect media houses publishing unsubstantiated stories, bloggers notorious for publishing stories with questionable facts. The down side is once one is perceived to have committed the offence, they will have to prove veracity of the story in court.

This offence originated in the spread of fake stories and click bait during the election period. It was not included in the first draft, it was introduced in the 2017 Bill.

This offence specifically talks about knowingly publishing or broadcasting false information calculated to cause chaos, panic, discredit the image or reputation of a person.

It covers broadcasters, online publishers, etc. Online publishing includes updates on social media. The penalty is Sh5 million, 10 years in jail or both.

The writer is a cybercrime lawyer and partner at Kipness and Odhiambo Associates

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