Fake news peddlers will now be liable to a Sh5 million fine or 2-year jail term, after President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday assented to the Computer and Cyber crimes Bill, 2017.
The new law also stipulates hefty fines and lengthy prison terms for those found guilty of cyber bullying and spreading fake news.
It also targets journalists, media houses, social media users, bloggers and other internet users.
Clause 22 of the law states in part; “A person who intentionally publishes fake, misleading or fictitious data or misinforms with intent that the data shall be considered or acted upon as authentic with or without financial gain commits an offence and shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding five million shillings or to imprisonment of a term not exceeding two years, or both.”
Signed into law the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Bill 2018 which provides for timely and effective detection, prohibition, prevention, response, investigation and prosecution of computer and cyber crimes @WilliamsRuto pic.twitter.com/3EVIgryHGw
— Uhuru Kenyatta (@UKenyatta) May 16, 2018
The assent comes amid calls for the President to revert the law back to Parliament to ensure its provisions are constitutional and do not violate the right to media freedom and expression.
“Kenyan legislatures have passed a wide ranging bill that will criminalise free speech with journalists and bloggers likely to be the first victims if signed into law,” said CPJ’s Africa Coordinator Angela Quintal in New York.
Following the President assent to the Bill, Kenyans took to social media to air their views. Here are a selected few:
The ascention of the Cybercrime Bill by President Uhuru Kenyatta is a clear example of When the fox administers justice,the chickens will always be found GUILTY..Miguna Miguna MAY GOD HELP THIS COUNTRY @Ireri_TheOne @daisyjerop #TwawezaLive
— POLITICAL IXION (@FranklinChes1) May 16, 2018
There is a bill on the way that seeks to regulate what you can think.
A step up from today’s cyber crime bill, which regulates what you can say.
I’ve faked the first item, but is it really that far fetched? Wouldn’t they love to do that?
— Evans Kinyua (@EvansKinyua17) May 16, 2018
The game is about to get stupid rough, we’re either going to jail, paying heavy fines or just not talking at all.
The President assents to the dreaded cyber crime bill making it a law. pic.twitter.com/GDEujRUPGG
— Kenya West© (@KinyanBoy) May 16, 2018
I am not a lawyer but a simple reading of Cybercrime Bill 2018 makes it unconstitutional. It violates Articles 33 and 34 of the 2010 constitution. The same courts that declared “ misuse of licensed communication equipment “ unconstitutional will declare it unconstitutional too
— Rein (@Asamoh_) May 16, 2018
The same characters that sailed to occupy their current seats through cambridge Analytica social media campaign strategy, full of hatred, ethnic divisions, abuses, fake news, propaganda now feels more safe than ever with Computer and Cybercrime Bill in place. Hypocrisy galore!!
— RETIRED COMRADE (@retired_comrade) May 16, 2018