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Kenya suspends sections of cybercrime law

Kenya suspends sections of cybercrime law

From Kenya, Justice Chacha Mwita has suspended 26 sections of the Computer Misuse and Cybercrime law after a successful petition from the Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE), Article 19 and Kenya Union of Journalists.

The law, signed by the president to tackle a surge in cybercrime, had raised concern among citizens over the potential impact on freedom of speech.

Experts singled out Section 22 and 23 which targets fake news as problematic.

In an article appearing in local media, Lawyer Apollo Mboya, said the term "false information" could be used to gag media.

Mboya added that restrictions on data sharing were not well thought out in terms of the protection of whistle-blowers.

BAKE also said that it would be difficult to prove intent as far as Section 16 and 17, which deal with unauthorised interception of computer systems, programs or data, are concerned.

"Failure to describe the mens rea (the intention or knowledge of wrongdoing) elements makes it likely that innocent persons, pawns, victim of cyber-attacks and whistle-blowers will be found guilty of these offences," BAKE said in its petition.

The organisation believes there was not sufficient public participation in drafting the law and most of the sections are ambiguous in their current form and need to be made clearer.

While the law is scheduled to come to effect on 30 May 2018, the 26 suspended sections are awaiting full hearing on 18 July 2018.

"In the past several years, there have been attempts by the government to clamp down on the freedom of expression online. This Act is a testament of these efforts, especially after other sections were declared unconstitutional by the courts," said James Wamathai, the Director of Partnerships at BAKE.

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