Cyber crimes Law Restricts Media Freedom – Freedom House

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WASHINGTON D.C., United States of America

The Freedom House has issued a statement in response to President Uhuru Kenyatta signed Computer and Cyber crimes Law, that allows criminal chargers to be brought against persons deemed to have “intentionally published false, misleading or fictitious data,”

According to the statement issued, it claims that President Kenyatta has ignored well founded concerns raised by civil society and media groups including the Media Council of Kenya, and chose to limit rather than protect free speech

“The cybercrimes law is another step backward for media freedom and online expression in Kenya,” said Morris Odhiambo, regional project director for East and Horn of Africa at Freedom House.

Mr. Morris said that by criminalizing the publication of ‘false’ information, the government has overstepped its bounds and become an arbiter of truth on the internet. The law’s broadly worded provisions and possible jail terms are ripe for abuse by public officials looking to silence critical reporting online.

He added “This move is particularly troubling in light of recent developments in Kenya that include the temporary shutdown of three media groups in January and multiple instances of authorities ignoring court orders, such as the order to immediately reopen the three media outlets. President Kenyatta ignored well-founded concerns raised by civil society and media groups, including the Media Council of Kenya, and chose to limit rather than protect free speech.”

Kenya is rated Partly Free in Freedom in the World 2018, Partly Free in Freedom of the Press 2017, and Free in Freedom on the Net 2017.