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Kenya's High Court maintains controversial cybercrime law

Kenya , 21 Feb 2020

Kenya's High Court maintains controversial cybercrime law

Kenya's High Court has dismissed an application to suspend 26 sections of the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act, 2018, and said these were 'constitutional'.

The Act was signed into law by President Uhuru Kenyatta on 16 May 2018 to tackle the rise in cybercrime and provide a legal framework to punish cybercriminals.

However, the Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE) filed objections to the Law claiming that 26 sections (which primarily cover hate speech and fake news) were detrimental to the freedom of speech.

BAKE also highlighted Section 16 and 17 that touch on unauthorised interception, unauthorised access and unauthorised interference of communication.

The organisation issued a statement at the time which reads in part, "The National Computer and Cybercrimes Coordination Committee lack oversight in its representation as it is solely from government. Industry needs representation to articulate and advance stakeholder interests."

According to BAKE they sought legal recourse because several provisions in the new Law were unconstitutional and "constituted an infringement on fundamental freedoms".

In May 2018 the High Court froze the enactment of the contested 26 sections and BAKE responded with another statement: "In our opinion, 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 High Court has now dismissed the application and in its ruling, the Judge stated: "The petition by the bloggers is declared unwarranted and the Act does not violate any fundamental rights."

BAKE describes this latest development as a blow to local digital rights, especially freedom of expression and freedom of the media.

"We intend to appeal this decision immediately," it added.

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