MORALITY

Duale bid to make porn illegal in tough new laws

Garissa Township MP Aden Duale wants possession of pornography, accessing porn websites to attract Sh20 million fine

In Summary

• The law seeks to make it illegal to distribute, transmit, disseminate, circulate, deliver, exhibit, or make pornographic material available in any way.

•  Duale also wants the government, through the National Computer and Cybercrimes Coordination Committee, to block access to porn websites by persons within Kenya.

A survey once showed most women watch porn on smartphones than men.
A survey once showed most women watch porn on smartphones than men.
Image: FILE

Tough times await artistes, video music producers, advertisers, and individual computer users following proposed tough laws to help tame pornography in the country.

Garissa Township MP Aden Duale, in the proposals seen by the Star, wants it made illegal to possess or publish pornography, in any computer system or data storage device.

Duale also wants the government, through the National Computer and Cybercrimes Coordination Committee, to block access to porn websites by persons within Kenya.

The proposed law — to be cited as the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes (Amendment) Act, 2020 — is set for publication and introduction in the National Assembly for consideration anytime this week.

It seeks to amend the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act to introduce harsh penalties for any violations.

If approved, persons found in possession of pornographic material in their phones or computer devices or publishes the same on the internet — social media platforms — will face a Sh20 million fine or 20 years in jail.

Duale’s bill seeks to provide that it would be illegal for any person to produce pornography for the purpose of publication through a computer system.

“A person shall not knowingly download pornography, distribute, transmit, disseminate, circulate, deliver, exhibit, lend for gain, exchange, barter, sell or offer for sale, let on hire or offer to let on hire, offer in any way, or make available in any way from a telecommunications apparatus,” the Bill reads in part. 

Many political leaders have over the years lamented harassment by persons who flood their phones with pornographic material, some as payback to achieve political ends. 

In 2018, Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o wowed journalists with his account of a woman who kept tormenting him with nude photos via WhatsApp.

The governor disclosed that the woman would send him photos and raunchy messages at night. He reported the matter to the police.

Suna East legislator Junet Mohamed also once told Parliament of criminals that were sending MPs the disturbing videos.

Duale spoke of a woman who had mobilised numbers of male legislators, infiltrating their phones with viral sexually explicit content.

Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa, during the debate in early 2018, said he was once embarrassed after he opened such videos while with his family members.

National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale during a press conference at Parliament Buildings on Wednesday, November 6, 2019.
National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale during a press conference at Parliament Buildings on Wednesday, November 6, 2019.
Image: EZEKIEL AMING'A

“The sounds that came out of the video made it difficult for me to speak in my house. This matter is breaking families,” Wamalwa said.

A Cabinet minister, a former governor, and a former CAS featured in the news and in blogs over nudity.

A governor from Nyanza also once had his nudes released by bloggers just days before the 2017 General Election.

A 25-year-old former Devolution ministry staffer grabbed Kenyans attention when he released intimate photos of him with a former Woman Representative, who denied ever associating with the lad.

MPs Sabina Chege (Murang’a Woman MP) and her Wajir counterpart Fatuma Gedi have complained of being victims of cyber harassment.

For the latter, two MPs were summoned by the DCI in December 2018 to shed light on the defamatory video which was purported to be linked to the Woman MP.

Police arrested six people in connection with the creation and spread of the fabricated video.

Duale further seeks to make it illegal for any to use electronic mediums to promote terrorism, religious extremism, or cult activities.

It would make it illegal for persons who individually or with other persons wilfully send material that is likely to cause the recipients to commit suicide or cause any other harm to themselves.

Items that are likely to cause other persons to join or participate in unlicensed and extreme religious or cult activities would also be prohibited.

A person who publishes or transmits electronic messages that is likely to cause other persons to join or participate in terrorist activities, commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding Sh5 million or ten years in jail.

Duale told the Star he seeks to deal with such incidents and related cases adding that the proposed law would go a long way to saving families.

Further, the Garissa Township MP seeks to provide exemptions for cases where a publication is proved to be justified as being for the public good.

This will be on the ground that such book, pamphlet, paper, writing, drawing, painting, art, representation or figure is in the interest of science, literature, learning or other objects of general concerns.

The proposed law defines pornography to include data — visual or audio — that depicts persons engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

The provision may affect musicians who produce content judged as sexually explicit.

The law seeks to make it illegal to distribute, transmit, disseminate, circulate, deliver, exhibit, or make such material available in any way.

Publishing, as per the new law, would mean having in possession or custody or under control, for purposes of distributing or exhibiting sexually explicit content.

The legislation further seeks to make it illegal to print, take photographs, copy or make material that is deemed to be sexually explicit.

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha attributed the explosive number of teen pregnancies among schoolgoing children to ease of access to pornography among learners.

CS Magoha, citing successes in other countries, said he’d lobby the Cabinet and President Uhuru Kenyatta to consider a law blocking such content, terming them triggers of sexual thoughts.

North Korea, Australia, China, Cuba, Turkey, Pakistan, Oman, Eritrea, the United Kingdom, and UAE are considered among countries that censor such content. It is illegal to produce porn in Russia.

Kenya only has laws on controlling child pornography with no clear provision of what happens to sexually explicit content involving adults – persons over 18 years.

The Kenya Film Classification Board has been undertaking to control display of pornographic material – largely on PSV matatus.

High internet penetration, cheap data and access through smartphones have made pornographic material common place.

The government in November 2018 announced plans to close porn websites and regulate films with explicit content.

ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru at that time said the Communication Authority of Kenya would take up the mantle, being the mandated state agency.

He said the CA would work with the Kenya Film Classification Board to ensure film content shown, especially to young people, is regulated.

Mucheru said the government had employed advanced technology to deal with the pornography menace.