Cyber crimes like the publishing of fake news and cyber bullying are now criminal offences in Kenya.

Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta today signed The Computer and Cybercrimes Bill, which states that any person who violates one of the 17 offences outlined by the Bill will be convicted and sentenced to fines or imprisonment, depending on the offence.

The purpose of the Bill is to “protect the confidentiality, integrity and availability of computer systems, programs and data”, “prevent the unlawful use of computer systems”, “facilitate the investigation and prosecution of cybercrimes”, and “facilitate international co-operation on matters”.

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The Bill also details measures against child pornography, unauthorised access, illegal devices and computer forgery. Although punishments for some of the detailed offences are reasonable, retribution for crimes of fake news — under Clause 12 of the Bill — can potentially inconvenience the media including online journalists, social media influencers and bloggers.

The clause says if a person “intentionally publishes false, misleading or fictitious data or misinforms with intent that the data shall be considered or acted upon as authentic,” they can be fined up to 5 000 000 shilling (nearly R620 000) or imprisoned for up to two years.

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