Is Kenya's cyber security Bill good enough?


In May this year the Kenya Cyber Security Bill was approved by cabinet and has paved the way for the proposed legislation to be debated in parliament.

A number of ICT practitioners, including lawyer and ICT professional John Freeman from Afriledger, have criticised the Bill and believe it requires more work before it is ready to be passed.

"There is no intent clause and that can stifle freedom of speech," said Freeman.

He added that an intent clause can differentiate between a malicious cybercrime and a simple mistake. He made reference to the Bill's current definition of unauthorised access which, he says, means that forgetting a password and being denied access to a platform is construed as a cybercrime.

However, Evans Kahuthu, Project Manager, Information Security at Kenya ICT Authority, believes the Bill is widely inclusive and incorporates views from industry experts.

"There were a lot of experts who were involved. The Bill in parliament was a multi-stakeholder Bill not a government sponsored Bill," Kahuthu said, adding that all the contentious issues were addressed.

"The fact that it's in parliament does not mean it's final. Parliament must constitutionally go through public participation so you have an opportunity to air your views," Kahuthu continued.

Alistair Freeman, CEO of Eset East Africa said that regardless of the debate on the Bill, Kenya is in dire need of legislation to counter cybercrime.

"We need to be mindful on what is being done around legislation. A step is being taken in the right direction in terms of cybercrime legislation. I think it's a good thing and we are eighty percent there," Freeman said. "Having some form of legislation in place, even though it may be hamstrung in certain instances that have been highlighted, is more important that not being able to criminalise these acts as a start."

Alistair Freeman said that the country is one of the few in Africa looking to legislate laws around cybercrime and that it was a positive move. He said even though Kenya lags behind South Africa and Nigeria in terms of internet traffic, its legislative agenda is more robust.

He urged countries in Africa not to try recreate the wheel and use the internet to sample laws from different regions globally and use what works for them.