Kenya's president signs new law that criminalises fake news, obscene content

Kenya's president signs new law that criminalises fake news, obscene content

Kenya's president signs new law that criminalises fake news, obscene content

The President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta has signed a new law that criminalizes fake news and online bullying as part of efforts to fight cyber-crime.

The new law also gives "special circumstances" where a police officer can take possession of a computer system without a court warrant.

Hackers will also be liable to a Sh10 million fine or 10 years in jail, or both if they commit any other crimes defined in the Bill once they illegally gain access.

"Fake news is an offence under this bill, even when you receive fake news and forward it to another person, that's an offence in this bill", Duale had said.

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.

President Uhuru Kenyatta in a past event.

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Reports indicate that the Cyber crimes Act provides for offences relating to computer systems including; unauthorised access, unauthorised disclosure of passwords, cyber espionage, publication of false information, child pornography among others.

Previous attempts to impose some control on social media users were met with accusations that the government was out to limit free speech.

It will also cover areas of computer forgery, computer fraud, cyber harassment, cyber squatting, 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.

Present during the signing at State House, Nairobi, were 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.

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.

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