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Bloggers win first round as court suspends sections of cyber-crime law

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President Uhuru Kenyatta. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • Justice Chacha Mwita issued the directive yesterday in a case in which the Bloggers Association of Kenya sued the Attorney-General, the Speaker of the National Assembly, the Inspector-General of Police and the Director of Public Prosecutions over the Computer Misuse and Cyber Crimes Act 2018.
  • Justice Mwita suspended 22 sections that touched on child pornography and its penalties, publishing of false information, fraudulent use of electronic data, interference with computer systems and data, among others.
  • The bloggers argued that the disputed law infringes on and threatens freedom of expression and the right to privacy, property and a fair hearing.

The High Court has temporarily suspended sections of the cybercrime law that outlaw the abuse of people on social media but which critics say could be exploited to repress freedom of expression.

Justice Chacha Mwita issued the directive Tuesday in a case in which the Bloggers Association of Kenya sued the Attorney-General, the Speaker of the National Assembly, the Inspector-General of Police and the Director of Public Prosecutions over the Computer Misuse and Cyber Crimes Act 2018.

Justice Mwita suspended 22 sections that touched on child pornography and its penalties, publishing of false information, fraudulent use of electronic data, interference with computer systems and data, among others.

The bloggers argued that the disputed law infringes on and threatens 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 for cyber bullies and fake news dealers. It also targets journalists, media houses, social media users, bloggers and other Internet users.

President Uhuru Kenyatta signed the Bill into law on May 16 amid calls to revert it back to Parliament to ensure its provisions are constitutional and do not violate the right to media freedom and expression.

According to clause 12 of the law, publishing of a false or fictitious information will attract a Sh5 million fine or a two-year jail term.