Forwarding lewd SMS could attract 25 years in jail
The simple act of forwarding a message on social media depicting pornography or material deemed to incite people to chaos, could earn you a 25-year jail term or a Sh25 million fine.
“A person who spreads or possesses pornography in a computer system or on a computer data storage medium; commits an offence and shall be liable upon conviction to a fine not exceeding Sh20 million or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 25 years, or both.
“This penalty is meant to act as deterrent measure,” reads a bill sponsored by Garissa Township MP Aden Duale. The Bill further provides that a person who publishes or transmits electronic messages likely to cause other persons to join or participate in terrorist activities, commits an offence of cyber terrorism.
Such a person shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding Sh20 million or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 25 years, or both.
The bill, which is headed for the first reading at the National Assembly, comes amid an increase in incidences where nude videos of prominent personalities have been widely shared on social media by unknown persons.
The Bill, if passed, will criminalise pornography by providing that a person who knowingly publishes pornography through a computer system, produces pornography for the purpose of its publication through a computer system and download, distribute, transmit, disseminate, circulate, deliver, exhibit, lend for gain among other actions.
In areas like Mombasa, cyber misuse has been blamed for luring unsuspecting youths to join terror groups. A number of youths in the country are also said to have committed suicide due to cyber bullying.
They include 29-year-old Brenda Akinyi, a university student who was known for her ubiquitous online presence on various platforms. Akinyi committed suicide near the Kabete Police Station last year by throwing herself in the way of oncoming vehicle on Waiyaki Way.
Internet usage Police attributed Akinyi’s action to cyber bullying. The Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes (Amendment) Bill, 2021 (National Assembly Bill No. 11 of 2021) seeks to amend the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act No. 5 of 2018.
Duale said that over the past years, access and usage of internet has created a global village where by a click of a mouse, one is able to access a diversity of internet content.
“This is a very progressive Bill for anyone who cares for the young people of this country, the public morality, public security and safety of the society,” Duale told People Daily yesterday.
Opportunities “The proliferation of technology has brought both opportunities in terms of technological advancement and business opportunities and technology has proved very useful as the world continues to battle the Covid-19 Pandemic,” says the former leader of majority.
The use of internet and technology, Duale said, has also grown as schools and religious institutions move towards the use of online platforms.
Making his presentation to the ICT Committee of the National Assembly last week, Duale said there has been an increase in internet content that shares nudity and pornography among young people.
Such content, he noted, is now easily available in the internet exposing many of our children to moral decadency.
“Unless this is regulated, the lives of innocent Kenyan children shall be exposed to inappropriate sexual content. This is made worse by the fact that the age ratings that are adopted and filtered out internationally vary from one country to another and what may be considered morally appropriate in one country may be morally wrong in Kenya,” he added.
Need to regulate According to Duale, there is need to regulate what is acceptable accessible content in order to preserve our public morality, cultural and religious values that form the fabric of our country.
Duale lamented that there has been an increase in unlicensed and extreme religious activities and cults perpetuated by computer misuse.
“Sadly, this remain unregulated and as a result crafty person having been preying on the young people to join cults, to believe in weird religious activities and are completely brain washing the youths,” Duale said.
He warned that if the vice remains unchecked, a whole generation of young people will join extremist and cultish religious groups. Computer and cybercrimes are also being used to lure youths to commit suicide, incidents which have been on the rise recently.