New Bill Seeks to License Bloggers and WhatsApp Admins in Kenya

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For the longest time, the government has been eyeing social media platforms, which have enjoyed so much freedom and independence. The government is calculative in closing in on them through a proposed Bill dubbed Kenya Information and Communications (Amendment) Act, 2019.

Under this Bill, an established Commission shall prescribe the manner in which applications to establish such platforms are to be made subject to conditions it sees fit, so that they may be granted a license authorizing their existence.

Requirements for a license

The Commission may on the application in a prescribed manner and upon payment of a prescribed fee, grant a license authorizing any person to establish a social media platform for purposes of communication. The platforms in this case to include online publishing and discussion, media sharing, blogging, social networking, document and data sharing repositories, social media applications among others.

  • One must establish a physical office in the country
  • One must register all users of the social media platform using legal documents
  • A requirement that the licensee shall keep all the data of the users of its platform and shall submit the same to the Commission when required.
  • A requirement that the licensee shall carry out due diligence to ensure that all its users if natural persons are of the age of majority, a breach of which the commission has the power to revoke the license granted.

Social media users have been tasked with ensuring that any content published, written or shared through the social media platform is fair and does intimidate or degrade anyone. Group admins, on the other hand, will be required to control undesired content or discussions and approve memberships. The Commission shall keep a register of bloggers in a prescribed manner and is tasked to develop a bloggers code of conduct.

Any person who blogs without a license is guilty of an offense and shall be liable upon conviction to a fine
not exceeding two hundred thousand shillings, or to an imprisonment of a term not exceeding one year for social media users. For bloggers, they will be slapped with a fine not exceeding five hundred thousand shillings, or to an imprisonment of a term not exceeding two years.

Publishing obscene information

Kenya Information and Communications (Amendment) Act, 2019, forbids any person who publishes or transmits or causes to be published in electronic form, any material which is lascivious and tends to deprave and corrupt person when they get to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied therein.

A breach of which one 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.

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