Kenyan president signs cybercrimes law amid opposition

President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya  signed a new law on Wednesday that outlaws the abuse of people on social media but which critics say could be exploited to repress civil liberties.

Proponents of the law, including the legislators who pushed it through parliament, say the proliferation of social media has given rise to new crimes including online scams, which were not covered by previous laws.

The law lays the ground for investigation and prosecution of computer and cybercrimes including cyber-harassment and “publication of false information”, a statement from the presidency said.

Violations to be penalised under the law include cyber-espionage, false publications, child pornography, computer-borne forgery, cyber-stalking and cyber-bullying among others, the statement said, without spelling out the penalties.

Offenders convicted for sharing “false” or “fictitious” information and propagating hate speech will be liable to a fine of 5 million shillings ($49,776.01) or sentenced to two years in jail, or both.

Kenyan lawmakers passed the bill last month despite protests from media practitioners and rights activists that its provisions could be used to stifle press freedoms, Reuters report.

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