MP Aden Duale has sponsored an amendment to the Computer Misuse Bill that will see it adjusted to make room for additional gags online.
Named the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes (Amendment) Bill, 2021, and first spotted by IFREE the proposal is suggesting the state block some unnamed websites should it become law.
According to the proposal, the amendment seeks to ‘recommend websites to be rendered inaccessible within the Republic.’
The websites have not been named, and with the scope of the statement being wide, there is a likelihood that the State is pursuing to block a notable number of sites for reasons that are not clearly elaborated.
Furthermore, the amendment states that a person shall not knowingly post porn content using computer systems, produce the same for distribution, or download/distribute/transmit etc. using computer tools.
At the same time, the amendment proposes that it would be illegal to have pornography in a computer system or any other storage media.
If any of the above amendments are broken, then the contravention would see the subject pay a fine of up to KES 20 million, or be jailed up to a maximum of 25 years.
That is not all; the MP wants the following line added to the existing Cybercrime Bill:
A person who publishes or transmits electronic messages that is likely to cause other persons to join or participate in terrorist activities, commits and offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding twenty million shilling or imprisonment for a term not exceeding twenty-five years, or both.
These are some of the issues raised in bills related to computer systems that have been questioned before by organizations such as BAKE because they are ill-informed, and set a dangerous precedence in a country that has made many gains as far as online freedom is concerned.
It is likely that the State is planning to seek and prosecute individuals in Kenya for a wide range of computer-related crimes as outrageous as having pornographic content in their devices. Of course, the internet gives people a feeling of anonymity, and there are cases where some believe that their heinous activities cannot be traced to them. But that is far from what is being proposed here.
Besides, the online space poses a technical complexity, which means that the wrong people are going to be targeted in investigations when they actually haven’t done anything wrong.
We will keep track how activists and other notable organizations will respond to this proposal.