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Kenya's Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Bill now law

Kenya's Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Bill now law

President Uhuru Kenyatta signed the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Bill 2018 into law in Nairobi today.

According to the Presidency the new legislation fills a void that affected Kenya's ability to act on cybercrime.

An excerpt from an official statement reads: "The Act - which spells out stiff punishment to cybercriminals - provides for timely and effective detection, prohibition, prevention, response, investigation and prosecution of computer and cybercrimes. This includes search and seizure of stored computer data, record of and access to seized data, production order for data, expedited preservation, partial disclosure, real-time collection and interception of data."

The legislation covers a range of offences including unauthorised access, unauthorised interference, unauthorised interception, unauthorised disclosure of passwords, cyber espionage, false publications, child pornography, cyber terrorism and wrongful distribution of obscene or intimate images.

"The Act also deals with computer forgery, computer fraud, cyber harassment, publication of false information, cybersquatting, identity theft and impersonation, phishing, interception of electronic messages or money transfers, wilful misdirection of electronic messages and fraudulent use of electronic data among other cybercrimes," the statement continues.

The Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Bill also establishes the National Computer and Cybercrimes Coordination Committee and facilitates international co-operation in dealing with computer and cybercrime matters according to the Presidency.

Warning on use of cyber laws

Joe Mucheru, Cabinet Secretary in the Information, communication and Technology Ministry described the law as a necessary intervention ahead of the debates by parliamentarians and consideration by President Kenyatta, "Because cyber security criminal were becoming sophisticated and the government is sensitizing security and judiciary personnel on collection and interpretation of cyber security evidence for credible trial of suspects."

Tope Ogundipe, Director of Programs at Digital Rights NGO Paradigm Initiative warns that while the passing of laws tackling cybercrime should be encouraged across the African continent, these laws should not be used to limit important freedoms.

"A worrisome trend in the development and adoption of such legislation (in Africa) has been the potential, maybe even the intent in other cases to violate human rights, especially related to freedom of expression, right to privacy and access to information. Beginning with the Arab spring, the power of the internet to mobilise social activism, especially using the social media, has been demonstrated time and again in Africa. Governments have been responding since then with extreme measures to control the internet. One way this is being achieved is through repressive laws."

Kenyatta signed the Bill into law in the presence of Kenya's Deputy President William Ruto, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i, National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale, Attorney General Paul Kihara Kariuki and Solicitor General Kennedy Ogeto..

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