Withdraw proposed amendments to the Computer Misuses and Cybercrimes Act

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On Wednesday 7 July, 2021, six civil society organisations sent an open letter and memorandum to expressing deep concern over the proposed amendments to the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act (CMCA), 2018 through the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes (Amendment) Bill, 2021.

The organizations are: ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa, Access Now, the Bloggers Association of Kenya, Defenders Coalition, the Kenya ICT Action Network and the Kenya Union of Journalists.

The organizations wrote and presented the open letter and memorandum to the Garissa Township MP Hon. Aden Duale, Hon. Justice (Rtd) P. Kihara Kariuki Attorney General of Kenya; Hon. Justin Muturi, Speaker of the National Assembly; Noordin M. Haji, Director of Public Prosecutions; Hon. William Kipkemoi Kisang, Chairperson, National Assembly Departmental Committee on Communication, Information and Innovation; and Mr. Michael Sialai, CBS, Clerk, National Assembly.

The open letter and memorandum call for the immediate withdrawal of the Bill, in its entirety for the following reasons:

  1. The Bill limits the rights to freedom of expression and access to information under Articles 33 and 35 of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 respectively.
  2. The Bill violates the principle of the rule of law, under Article 10 of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010.
  3. The Bill introduces legal provisions that duplicate existing provisions in other laws, raising the risk of excessive criminal liability.
  4. The Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act, 2018 is Sub Judice.
  5. The cost of implementing the Bill will be an excessive burden on taxpayers.

If enacted, an outright ban on pornography will be enforceable in Kenya, and the government will possess the power to interfere with access to communications platforms and digital technologies. The Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes (Amendment) Bill, 2021 will also expand illegitimate cyber-harassment and cyber-terrorism provisions in the CMCA, 2018. The organizations also call upon the various agencies to initiate meaningful consultations with a diverse and representative group of stakeholders to align the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act, 2018 with national and international law and standards.

 

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