The Bloggers Association of Kenya BAKE) in conjunction with Lawyers Hub held a LAWTECH Meetup on Thursday to discuss the proposed amendments to the Kenya Information and Communications Act. The event that attracted lawyers and content creators alike sought to dissect the bill and what it meant for bloggers and online content creators in general.
The amendments among others include a Bill, sponsored by Malava MP Malulu Injendi, which will require all Facebook and WhatsApp group administrators to be registered with the Communication Authority (CA) before setting up any Social media groups. It also proposes that users and group administrators who allow offending content on their social media platforms to be jailed for a term not exceeding one year or face a ksh200,000 fine. In the bill Social Media Platforms are defined as below:
In addition, the bill will require bloggers to seek clearance with the Communications Authority, failure to which could attract an Sh500,000 fine or a two-year jail sentence. The Authority will also come up with a Bloggers code of conduct that they will have to adhere to. The bill defines blogging as shown below:
Speaking at the event, BAKE Director, James Wamathai, said the definitions under the Bill are too broad. “By calling a blog a social media platform, anyone who publishes online then becomes a target,” he said. He also added that bloggers have historically been viewed contentiously. The word ‘blogger’ is viewed negatively by the state.
Lawyer Demas Kiprono stated that Freedom of expression and freedom of the media are the backbone of democracy. He argued that the bill is a democracy killing tool and therefore should be scrapped off. He also reiterated the fact that there was a need for magistrates and judges to understand the emerging trends in tech. That way, they are able to give fair judgements when it came to matters technology.
You can read the Kenya Information and Communications (Amendment) Bill, 2019 here.
Images courtesy of Lawyershub