Jail term or Kshs 5m fine for spreading fake news in new law

President Kenyatta assented to the bills before attending his sister Margaret Wambui Kenyatta's requiem mass/PSCU. Credit: Capital FM Kenya

President Uhuru Kenyatta enacted Computer and Cybercrimes Bill, 2017 citing a two year jail term or Kshs 5 million fine for spreading fake news.

The President’s decision is facing protests with many Kenyans claiming it is a move to suppress not only media freedom but citizens’ freedom of speech.

“A person who intentionally publishes false, misleading or fictitious data or misinforms with intent that the data shall be considered or acted upon as authentic, with or without any financial gain, commits an offence and shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding five million shillings or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or to both,” reads clause 12 of the new law.

The new law also provided for offences relating to computer systems, cyber espionage, false publications, child pornography, computer forgery, computer fraud, cyber stalking and cyber bullying, aiding or abetting in the commission of an offence.

Offences relating to computer systems, a fine not exceeding five million shillings or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years, or to both.

“Offences relating to computer systems that would result in a significant financial loss to any person; threaten national security; cause physical injury or death to any person; or threaten public health or public safety, is liable, on conviction, to a fine not exceeding twenty million shillings or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years, or to both,” read clause 3.

Cybersecurity cost Kenya over Sh21.2 billion in 2017 coming a close second to Nigeria that lost Sh65.5 billion.

According to a recent Cyber Security report by Serianu that showed that Africa lost Sh350 billion to cybersecurity with financial institutions most affected.

The new law has made allowances to mitigate this with hackers facing a fine of Sh5 million shillings or a three-year jail term or both for unauthorised access, interference, interception, and disclosure of passwords and cyber espionage.
Hackers will also be liable to a Sh10 million fine or 10 years in jail, or both if they commit any other crimes defined in the Bill once they illegally gain access.

Those found guilty of spreading or in possession child pornography face a fine of Sh20 million or 25 years in prison or both.

According to a Dutch child rights organization report, indicated that Kenyan children were actively sharing nude photos with strangers online citing monetary value being a driving force for the act.

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