Information Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru has said the punitive sentences of up 25 years in the Computer and Cybercrimes Act are “not too bad”.
The Act that came into effect on Wednesday upon the assent of President Uhuru Kenyatta, he argues, may be punitive in some aspects but penalties are not as stiff as other countries where “it is life imprisonment for some of these crimes”.
In an interview on Citizen TV on Friday night, Mr Mucheru also allayed fears that Kenyans will be punished through an ambiguous provision against fake news.
UP IN ARMS
“There is a judge who will decide whether what you put there is true or false. So, it’s not Mucheru and not the government,” he said.
But the Bloggers Association of Kenya (Bake), Article 19 among other organisations are still up in arms with some provisions of the Act, with the former vowing to go to court to challenge the constitutionality of some of the sections.
Bake’s chairman Kennedy Kachwanya told the Sunday Nation on Saturday that the association is building up its case to challenge the law.
And Mr Henry Maina, the director of Article 19 Eastern Africa, said that while there are important provisions in the Act, the ones relating to content are questionable.
“They violate international human rights law on freedom of expression. Article 19 urges the government to review these provisions and amend them in line with human rights standards,” Mr Maina told the Sunday Nation.
In a statement, Mr Maina said laws that criminalise “false news” are often subject to abuse by authorities.
“Kenyan courts have found that criminal laws which do not state explicitly and definitely what conduct is punishable are void for vagueness, which is a clear issue with these provisions,” Mr Maina said.
Some of the offences in the Act include unauthorised access of a computer system which attracts a Sh10 million fine or a jail term of up to 10 years or both.
If someone hacks computers and threatens national security of public health safety, he or she will have to be behind bars for up to 10 years and be fined Sh20 million or both.
The offence with the toughest possible punishment is spreading child pornography which has a maximum fine of Sh20 million or a sentence of at most 25 years.
Cyber harassment attracts a fine of up to Sh20 million or a maximum of 10 years in prison. New cybercrime law ‘is not too bad’, says CS Mucheru.