Nairobi — On Wednesday, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta 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.
Last week, the Committee for Protection of Journalists (CPJ) urged Kenyatta not to sign the bill, arguing it would make it easy for authorities to gag journalists publishing information they dislike. “Kenyan legislators have passed a wide-ranging bill that will criminalise free speech, with journalists and bloggers likely to be among the first victims if it