In an effort to control and regulate social media platforms in the country, administrators in Kenya have proposed a bill that seeks to compel Facebook group admins, WhatsApp group admins and Bloggers to have a license from the Communications Authority of Kenya.
Tabled by Maluva Member of Parliament, Malulu Injendi, The Kenya Information and Communication (Amendment) Bill 2019 seeks to put some control over social media platforms. The Bill specifically targets group admins, who will be used to police the kind of content shared in the groups.
The Bill defines social media platforms to include “online publishing and discussion, media sharing, blogging, social networking, document and data sharing repositories, social media applications, social bookmarking and widgets.”
On the licensing part, the Bill’s memorandum of objects and reasons reads; “The new part will introduce new sections to the Act on licensing of social media platforms, sharing of information by a licensed person, creates obligations to social media users, registration of bloggers and seeks to give responsibility to CA to develop a bloggers’ code of conduct in consultation with bloggers.”
CA on its part will keep a registry of all bloggers and develop a code of conduct for bloggers.
The bill will be tabled next week.
Why It Matters
This is a huge deal as it means that all group admins on any social platform will be required to get authorisation from CA before they can open such groups.
The bill also states that admins should monitor content shared in their groups and remove any member that posts inappropriate content. The admins are also required to ensure all their members are over 18 years old.
Group admins will also be required to have a physical address and keep a record of the group members.
Failure to meet any of these requirements will lead to up to Kes.200,000 in fines or a maximum of one-year imprisonment.
Bloggers have not been left out of the hook as the bill states that anyone running a blog without CA’s license could land bloggers a fine of up to Kes.500,000 or up to two years in prison.
The Big Question
The news of this bill has not been received well as speculations are that the government is trying to censor social media platforms.
Even if the bill passes, the government will have an uphill task of monitoring private platforms like WhatsApp.
It is not really clear the motivation behind the bill but the big question remains, do you think this bill will be used by the government to silence citizens?