Court Upholds Cyber Crime Law Threatening Freedom of Expression

Clerk helps man get released

The Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act, 2018 that was signed into law by President Uhuru Kenyatta on 16th May 2018, some aspects of this law did not augur well with the Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE) who moved to court to challenge it.

BAKE was particularly concerned about several provisions of the new law that constituted an infringement on a fundamental freedom. 26 sections of the law threatened the freedom of opinion, freedom of expression, freedom of the media, freedom, and security of the person, right to privacy, right to property and the right to a fair hearing.

The state was dragged into the corridors of justice and after a series of hearing before the court, judgment was set to be delivered on January 30 but the matter was postponed to today by Justice Makau. BAKE’s petition challenging Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act 2018 has been dismissed after High Court Judge James Makau declared that the law is valid in its entirety.

According to Judge Makau, the petition was unwarranted and had lifted sections that had earlier been suspended by the court that touched on child pornography and its penalties, publishing of false information, fraudulent use of electronic data, interference with computer systems and data, among others.

“This ruling is a blow to digital rights in Kenya, especially freedom of expression and freedom of the media. We intend to appeal this decision immediately,” BAKE said.

The disputed new law not only infringes on and threatens freedom of expression and the right to privacy, property and a fair hearing, but also imposes hefty fines and long prison terms for cyber bullies and fake newsdealers.