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Economy

Lawyers seek to join suit against cybercrimes Act

Enock Chacha Mwita
Justice Enock Chacha Mwita. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) wants to be allowed to join a suit challenging implementation of the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act.

The LSK says the law, which President Uhuru Kenyatta assented to on May 16 and came into effect on June 1, puts the life of whistleblowers, bloggers and media practitioners on the line for simply doing their work.

Through lawyer Waikwa Wanyoike, the LSK said the Act makes the media liable for accessing or publishing leaked documents including those that touch on corruption in government. “Section 14 targets whistleblowing and the reporting of corrupt activities despite the compelling public interest consideration under the Constitution, which encourages whistleblowing against corruption,” he said.

On June 1, Justice Enoch Chacha Mwita suspended 22 sections of the Computer Misuse and Cyber Crimes Act 2018.

The LSK said the cybercrime law also has a chilling effect on the civil society and political opponents. The lawyers also termed the law vague and that it violates the right to a fair hearing as well as the public’ s right to information.

“There can be no use of favourable determination of this matter if persons or victims of offences prescribed in this Act by the time of determination of this matter, the torture and freedom taken place will be lost beyond recall,” said Mr Wanyoike.

“since this matter is founded on common questions of fact and law like the ones raised in the case filed by bloggers, we seek consolidation of the matter in order to arrive at a just determination.”

The LSK wants sections of the Act declared as unconstitutional and that the state be barred from enforcing it.

Earlier this month, Bloggers Association of Kenya sued the Attorney-General, National Assembly Speaker, Inspector-General of Police and Director of Public Prosecution over the law.

The Kenya Union of Journalists and media freedom lobby group Article 19 are listed as interested parties in the case. A Mr Geoffrey Maina also filed a similar suit earlier.

However, the Solicitor General also filed a suit seeking to have the order set aside or varied.

According to the government, public and private Kenyan citizens remain exposed from the failure to adequately protect data belonging to European Union subjects in compliance with the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) which was to come into force on May 25.

Some of the offenses prescribed by the disputed law include unauthorized interference to a computer system, program or data, intercepting of electronic messages or money transfer, fraudulent use of electronic data, intentionally publishing false or fictitious misleading data, publishing information in print, broadcast which causes panic, chaos or violence and the one that relates to child pornography.

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