By Ann Wambui
President Uhuru Kenyatta signed the Computer and Cybercrimes Bill to law on Wednesday 16th May 2018, which targets social media users and outlining stiff penalties of Sh5 million fine or two year imprisonment or both, to cybercrimes including child pornography.
The Computer and Cybercrimes law will deal with offences relating to computer systems including, but not to limited to unauthorized access, interference, interception and disclosure of passwords, false publications, child pornography, cyber terrorism and wrongful distribution of obscene or intimate images.
Child pornography is any visual depiction of a minor in some explicit manner. Evolution of internet and technology has enabled child pornography offenders to connect through the internet and share images, interests, desires and experiences of abusing children. The law outlines that sharing child pornography attracts a maximum fine of Sh20 million, or 25 years in prison or both.
In Section 16, on Cyber stalking and cyber-bullying, it makes it an offence to “willfully and repeatedly “communicate “directly or indirectly” with someone else if they “know or ought to know” that such conduct “is likely to cause those persons apprehension or fear of violence” or “detrimentally affects that person.” In relation to this, children will now be protected by law against cyberbullies who in major cases contribute to the cause of death for children.
The internet has provided many platforms that curious or idlers freely use sometimes knowing or not knowing the end users. The information exchange falls deaf to some ears while in most times others take words very serious especially in relation to body-shaming, freedom of speech. For example, when the #METOO was trending and people came out with their encounters with rape and sexual assault, not many social media users took the “opening-up” stories quite well. Some were discarded as attention seekers and that they got what they “deserved”. Such kind of comments could psychologically affect a minor who probably had an issue they wanted to share with someone in order to get assistance but upon viewing such kind of information, they end up holding back critical information which in some cases lead victims becoming suicidal.
Last year May 2017, a 45 year-old man was charged with showing pornographic videos to minors with the intention of making them engage in sexual acts. According to one of the witness, the accused is said to have forced one disabled child to have sex with another while the rest watched. Although the accused was reprimanded for 5 days pending investigations, the punishment would have been stiffer had it been during this time this law is active.
Children should be protected from all means of sexual exploitation to keep their minds free from torture and unnecessary exposure. This helps in shaping their thoughts to first understand what the world consists of, so that they are able to make informed and better choices as they grow.
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