Is Kenya slackening its pace in deploying progressive ICT laws?

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Kenya government viewed as the largest consumer of ICT services, appears to have slackened its pace in making laws aimed to spur economic development and establishing a viable and sustainable opportunities in the information society and knowledge economy.

The country according to pundits has been slackening to seize full advantages of ICT potential rendering services to its ever-growing citizens the delay to finalize a web of draft ICT bills purposed to leapfrog the country to adopt the emerging technologies.

Several drafts bills are yet to find their place to the floor of parliament yet ICT plays is an enabler for growth and development largely requires the right policy interventions, resource investments, appropriate networks (partnerships) and enabling environment.

In the government’s defense Joe Mucheru, Cabinet Secretary ministry of ICT points out that Government was doing a lot to put in place the right policies so as to reap the advantages of digital transformation. He said that at least seven bills had been put in place and were awaiting to be passed into law.

In 2016, President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2016, signed into law 9 Bills and among them was the access to information bill. The bill was aimed at effecting Article 35 of the Kenyan Constitution which provides for citizens’ right to access to information held by the country.

Prior to the enactment of the new constitution in 2010, Kenyans could not readily access information held by the state, a situation that has since improved.

The new law seeks to not only improve this process but expand it to ensure the information provided is both timely and accurate. The act allows every citizen has the right of access to information held by the State; and information held by another person and required for the exercise or protection of any right or fundamental freedom.

The law also allows every person the right to the correction or deletion of untrue or misleading information that affects the person. The State shall publish and publicise any important information affecting the nation.

Here are the seven pending bills:

a) The Cyber Security and Protection Bill, 2016

The Cybersecurity and protection bill 2016 will help provide for the enhancement of security in cyberspace; to provide for the prohibition, prevention, detection, response, investigation and prosecution of cybercrimesl to establish the national cyber security response unitl and for connected purposes.

This was a Senate Bill proposed by Hon Mutahi Kagwe and has since been withdrawn to allow for further public consultations and collection of views on the law.

b) Critical Infrastructure bill

The formulation of the Critical Infrastructure Bill was necessitated by the needs of the business community as articulated during the Northern Corridor, Presidential summit and Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) Presidential Round Table III of 5th December 2014.

On 27th March 2015 the then Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communications Dr. Fred Matiangi’ appointed a task force to formulate the Critical

Infrastructure Policy, 2016 and Bill

c) The local content bill

The local content bill will provide a framework to facilitate the local ownership, control and financing of activities connected with the exploitation of gas, oil and other mineral resources; to provide a framework to increase the local value capture along the value chain in the exploration of gas, oil and other mineral resources; and for connected purposes

d) Data protection bill

The Data Protection Bill will help regulate the collection, processing, storing, use and disclosure of information relating to individuals that is processed through automated or manual means and for connected purposes.

e) Copyright Amendment Bill

In an attempt to actively protect the rights of copyright owners through law enforcement and to prevent digital content piracy, the Kenya Copyright Board commenced work on amending the Copyright Act to facilitate protection of creative works on digital and online platforms through introducing intermediary liability provisions for ISPs.

The Copyright Amendment bill purports to make minor amendments to the Copyright Act, as and when necessary for the proper functioning of various creatures of statute. With the passing of this Act, four sections of the Copyright Act were amended, namely sections 15, 30, 36 and 42.

Section 15: This entire section has now been deleted from the Copyright Act. This section dealt with the liability of the Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) for damages.

Section 30: This section was extensively transformed through deletion of certain provisions and addition of new provisions. Section 30 deals with performers rights.

Section 36:This section has been fundamentally amended. The section dealt with authentication of copyright works.

Section 42: The wording of this section has been narrowed down. This section deals with the powers of arrest of police officers under the Copyright Act.

f) The Computer and CybercrimesBill 2017

The Bill seeks to provide for offences relating to computer systems; to enable timely and effective collection of forensic material for use as evidence, and facilitate international co-operation in dealing with cybercrime matters; and for connected purposes. The Bill we had earlier informed you about here and here can be accessed here.

g) Information Communication Technology Practitioners Bill 2016

The Information Communication Technology Practitioners Bill 2016 if passed to law will proyide for the training, registration, licensing, practice and standards of ICT practitioners and for connected purposes.

The bill was earlier met with a lot of uproar from industry players would see to it that all ICT Practitioners in Kenya are registered under the ICT Practitioners Institute (which would be created when the Bill is passed).

h) Draft National ICT Policy

The Ministry of Information and Communications Technology had been working on development and drafting of a National ICT policy.

The policy seeks to facilitate sustained economic growth and poverty reduction; promote social justice and equity; mainstream gender in national development; empower the youth and disadvantaged groups; stimulate investment and innovation in ICT; and achieve universal access.

The policy adequately provided for innovators and content creators, ICT practitioners, local manufacturers, animation and game developers, academic researchers, the business community and telcos, financial technology service providers, persons with disabilities and Kenyans at large.

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