AG wants law on child pornography returned

Ken Ogeto
Solicitor-General Ken Ogeto. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The Attorney General wants to overturn the suspension of sections of the cybercrime law that touched on child pornography, publishing of false information, fraudulent use of electronic data, interference with computer systems and real time collection of data by the police.

The AG’s office on Tuesday claimed the suspension creates a gap in the law and makes it difficult to prosecute those accused of committing offences related to cybercrime.

Critics of the cybercrime law say it could be exploited to supress freedom of expression.

The AG said the suspension hinders its ability to prohibit, mitigate, investigate and respond to domestic cyber-crime contrary to international cyber security due diligence requirements. “The petitioners failed to disclose the extra-territorial and transnational nature of the cyber space and the subsequent international obligations of the sued parties under the Act as well as international law on cyber security,” said Solicitor-General Ken Ogeto.

Justice Chacha Mwita last month suspended 22 sections of the law following a suit by the Bloggers Association of Kenya that opposed the new regulations.

The suspended sections related to child pornography and its penalties, publishing of false information, fraudulent use of electronic data, interference with computer systems and data among others.

It also contained a clause granting police real time access to computer data and refusal to grant access to seized IT documents.

Others are a clause that make it an offense to refuse to relinquish computer codes and access rights to an employer upon termination of employment.

The bloggers reckon that the disputed law will infringe on and threaten freedom of expression and the right to privacy, property and a fair hearing.

The Kenya Union of Journalists and Article 19, a lobby that deals with freedom of expression and information, are listed as interested parties in the case. The new law imposes hefty fines and long prison terms on cyber bullies and peddlers of fake news.

Publishing of a false or fictitious information attracts a Sh5 million fine or a two-year jail term.

A clause introduced in the Bill by National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale extends the jail term to 10 years if the false information is calculated to cause panic, chaos or violence.

It also targets journalists, media houses, social media users, bloggers and other Internet users.