Controversial Social Media bill rejected by the Parliamentary ICT committee

by Mahakamani News
Hon Mark Nyamita and John Kiarie, Parlimentary ICT Committee members

On Monday 11 November, 2019, after deliberations between Lawyers Hub and the Parliamentary ICT committee, the proposed Kenya Information and Communication Act Amendment Bill (Social Media Bill) was thrown out.

The proposed draconian laws had been sponsored by Malava MP Moses Injendi. The bill proposed far reaching changes inter alia a requirement for administrators of Blogs, Facebook and WhatsApp groups to be registered with the Communications Authority. The administrators were also required to pay a prescribed fee in order to acquire licenses for running, maintaining and operating such platforms. 

The administrators would also be required to collect personal data of platform users; regulate content and approve members (who must be over 18 years old).

Further the bill proposed periodic furnishing of information from administrators to the Communications Authority of Kenya  with regards to their physical addresses and that of members.

Moreover, the bill suggested punitive punishments in the form of a court fine not exceeding KSh. 200,000 or an imprisonment of one year for persons found to be in contravention of various provisions in the bill.

KSh. 500,000 fine or a two-year jail term was also proposed to people who post what the Bill termed as ‘degrading’ or ‘intimidating’ content.

The lawyers hub submitted that the bill had flawed provisions. They contended that the requirement by the bill to use legal documents of users in their registration violated the users right to privacy.

LawyersHub also argued that holding a journalist and a blogger to the same standard was flawed this is because the bill had defined blogging in the same manner that the Media Act had defined journalism.

Further, lawyers hub argued with regards to the physical office requirement. The lawyers opined that there should not be a jurisdictional limitation.

Mahakamani news condemned the bill for various reasons inter alia limiting the freedom of expression and speech if  not an attempt to bring back the repealed Section 29 of the KICA which prohibited “improper use of a licensed communications system,” or sharing information that annoys or inconveniences someone.

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