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Saturday, July 31, 2021

Duale proposes tough laws on pornography

By Otieno Otieno

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Video music producers, advertisers, artistes and individual computer users could soon find themselves behind bars if they are in possession or publish any pornographic content, should a new bill be enacted.

Garissa Township lawmaker Aden Duale, wants the government, through the National Computer and Cyber crimes Coordination Committee, to block access to porn websites by persons within Kenya.

In addition, Duale charges that it should be made illegal to possess or publish pornography, in any computer system or data storage device.

The Computer Misuse and Cyber crimes (Amendment) Act, 2020 — is set for publication and introduction in the National Assembly seeks to amend the Computer Misuse and Cyber crimes Act to introduce harsh penalties for any violations.

If approved, persons found in possession of pornographic material in their phones or computer devices or publishes the same on the Internet — social media platforms — will face a Sh20million fine or 20 years in jail.

According to the draft Bill, it would be illegal for any person to produce pornography for the purpose of publication through a computer system.

“A person shall not knowingly download pornography, distribute, transmit, disseminate, circulate, deliver, exhibit, lend for gain, exchange, barter, sell or offer for sale, let on hire or offer to let on hire, offer in any way, or make available in any way from a telecommunications apparatus,” the proposed law reads in part. 

The former National Assembly Majority Leader also seeks to make it illegal for any person to use electronic mediums to promote terrorism, religious extremism, or cult activities.

If passed, it would be illegal for persons who individually or with other persons willfully send material that is likely to cause the recipients to commit suicide or cause any other harm to themselves.

“A person who publishes or transmits electronic messages that is likely to cause other persons to join or participate in terrorist activities, commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding Sh5 million or ten years in jail,” reads part of the bill.

According to the lawmaker, the proposed law would go a long way to saving families. However, he seeks to provide exemptions for cases where a publication is proved to be justified as being for the public good.

He adds that, this will be on the ground that such book, pamphlet, paper, writing, drawing, painting, art, representation or figure is in the interest of science, literature, learning or other objects of general concerns.

The proposed law defines pornography to include data — visual or audio — that depicts persons engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

The provision may affect musicians who produce content judged as sexually explicit.

The law seeks to make it illegal to distribute, transmit, disseminate, circulate, deliver, exhibit, or make such material available in any way.

Publishing, as per the new law, would mean having in possession or custody or under control, for purposes of distributing or exhibiting sexually explicit content.

The legislation further seeks to make it illegal to print, take photographs, copy or make material that is deemed to be sexually explicit.

Many political leaders have over the years lamented harassment by persons who flood their phones with pornographic material, some as payback to achieve political ends. 

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