A High Court judge has declared that Section 84D of the Kenya Information and Communications Act is unconstitutional. The ruling was made after controversial blogger Cyprian Nyakundi filed a motion questioning the faults of the clause, which criminalizes publishing of demeaning or vulgar information via digital means.
The section reads: ‘Any person who publishes or transmits or causes to be published in electronic form, any material which is lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest and its effect is such as to tend to deprave and corrupt persons who are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances, to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied therein, shall on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding two hundred thousand shillings or imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or both.’
According to the High Court ruling that was announced by Justice Winfrida Okwany, the above expression is vague and limits the freedom of speech.
This follows cases of the said blogger publishing and sending updates on his social media pages that could be termed as ‘derogatory.’ Nyakundi has also found himself on the wrong side of the law based on his online activities. He has, from time to time, not shied away from referring to powerful government officials with obscenities, and has for the most part gotten away with it.
The ruling also marks a crucial win for people who faulted the clause, arguing that they have the freedom to use online platforms to express in a way they deem fit, provided it does not threaten or endanger someone’s life and operates within the confines of the law.