CA fails to stop Sh25m pornography penalty


The Communications Authority of Kenya head office in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The Communications Authority (CA) has lost a bid to block persons sharing and viewing pornographic material from being slapped with a Sh25 million fine or 25-year jail term.

The CA petitioned Parliament to drop changes to the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act 2018 that made it criminal for persons aged over 18 to share, distribute and possess pornographic content.

The communications regulator reckons that the legal changes on sharing pornographic material will violate the freedom of expression and right to privacy.

The proposal is contained in the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes (Amendment) Bill 2021 that seeks to increase the penalties against promoting pornography from Sh5 million to Sh25 million and increase the jail term from 10 years to 25.

The present law is silent on sharing and viewing pornographic material, but makes it criminal to produce pornography.

“The clause suppresses freedom of conscience and consumer rights on what adults may watch in the privacy of their homes,” CA said in its petition to the National Assembly committee on ICT.

The ICT committee has backed the Bill and rejected CA’s proposals on sharing and viewing pornographic material, paving the way for its second reading and lawmakers voting to approve or shoot it down.

The bill is due for second reading following its approval at the committee stage, after which MPs can vote to approve or reject the legislation when they return from their recess next week.

Lobbies had also petitioned Parliament to reject the bill saying that if passed in its current form, it will give the State powers to violate Universal Declaration of Human Rights on freedoms and rights of individuals.

The bill marks the latest State efforts to curb online recruitment of youth to groups linked to terrorism and protect children from pornographic sites in the wake of increasing access to the internet.

Lawmakers also backed changes that will provide the guidelines that National Computer and Cybercrimes Co-ordination will sue to deactivate and render inaccessible websites linked to pornography, terrorism and religious cultism within the territory of Kenya.