Publishing fake news or peddling pornography will attract hefty fines or lengthy jail terms, or both, under a potentially harsh law passed by the National Assembly last Thursday.
Under the Computer and Cybercrimes Bill, which is set to be presented to the President for assent, publication of false, misleading or fictitious information will attract a maximum fine of Sh5 million or imprisonment of a maximum of two years or both, upon conviction.
MPs also expanded the offence to include publication of fictitious information that is likely to propagate war, incite people to violence, constitute hate speech, advocate ethnic hatred or negatively affects the rights or reputations of others.
The bill was taken through the last stages on Thursday, with MPs competing to make copious amendments.
At the end, the proposed law was celebrated as making a much-needed breakthrough in dealing with cybercrime.
“There are people who acted and behaved with impunity, but this law will deal with them upon assent,” Majority Leader Aden Duale said.
“This bill will deal with those who create fake news. This bill will deal with those who use technology in the wrong way, like what happened to the Deputy Governor of Kirinyaga.
"This bill will deal with those guys who make people die 10 times when they are still alive,” he added.
In the proposed law, sending pornographic images, like the widely-circulated video of Peter Ndambiri, the deputy governor referred to by Mr Duale, will attract a fine of Sh300,000 or 30 years in jail.
Directorate of Criminal Investigations boss George Kinoti recently cited lack of a law to deal with online harassment as a major handicap in tackling the vice.
Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wa said the new law should held curb the abuse of social media.
“This abuse of social media is destroying not just families, it is destroying our children and that social fabric of the society.”
Kiambaa MP Paul Koinange, the chairman of the parliamentary Security Committee, successfully added provisions to punish cyberterrorists with a maximum fine of Sh5 million or 10 years in jail, or both.