Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday signed into law a sweeping cyber-crimes act criminalising fake news and online bullying, with clauses that critics argue could stifle press freedom.
The bill imposes stiff fines and jail terms for hacking, computer fraud, forgery of data, cyber espionage, publishing child pornography or sending pornographic content via any electronic means.
However, bloggers and media rights activists have expressed alarm over a clause which criminalises the publication of “false, misleading or fictitious data.”
Punishment for this can be a fine of $ 50,000 or up to two years in prison, or both.
Article 19, a London – based freedom expression watchdog, in an analysis of the bill, said it contained important additions modelled after relevant international standards.
However it also “contains several broadly defined offences with harsh sentences that could dramatically chill freedom of expression online in Kenya.” the London based freedom expression watchdog said.
Additionally, anyone found guilty of publishing false information that “is calculated or results in panic, chaos, or violence” or that is “likely to discredit the reputation of a person” can be fined $ 50,000 or jailed for up to 10 years.