The Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE) has launched the State of the Internet in Kenya 2019 Report. The report, fourth of its kind, highlights significant events in the digital space in Kenya in the past year.
The report noted that 2019 was a relatively good year for the online space. There were markedly fewer arrests and constitutional challenges to laws which may demonstrate a reduction in the momentum witnessed in previous years of the onslaught on internet rights and freedoms.
However, we did see attempts to re-introduce retrogressive Bills that had been resisted and criticized in the past. These included the Kenya Information and Communication (Amendment) Bill also known as the social media Bill which sought to regulate the use of social platforms and messaging applications; as well as the ICT Practitioners Bill which attempted to introduce broad registration and licensing requirements.
Great strides were made in the policy environment with the passing of key guiding documents such as the ICT Policy. The state of the digital or online space was positively influenced by the enactment of two critical laws, namely the Data Protection Act and the Copyright (Amendment) Act. The former was enacted to give effect to Article 31(c) and (d) of the Constitution; to establish the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner; to make provision for the regulation of the processing of personal data; to provide for the rights of data subjects and obligations of data controllers and processors, and other purposes.
Other notable developments included the ‘Huduma Namba Case’ judgment which halted the mandatory registration of persons into the NIIMs system for want of an adequate legal framework for data protection and privacy by the date of commencement. Yet another was the ‘Cybercrimes Act Case’ which had an unfortunate judgment outside of the reporting period: the suspension of 26 provisions lapsed when the case was dismissed in early 2020.
Speaking at the launch, BAKE’s chairman Mr Kennedy Kachwanya said, “The report gives us a snapshot of what is happening in the Kenya digital space and helps us to prepare for the future accordingly. Doing the report was not easy because of the challenges we have faced this year and especially due to COVID-19. Despite all that, we managed to work on it with the help of some great partners. We are very happy and grateful for the support that we received from USAID through FHI 360 and Internews.”
BAKE, with the support of its partners, also hosted a panel of digital right experts and defenders to examine the contents of the report. The panel consisted of Grace Mutungu Research fellow at CIPIT, Demas Kiprono from Amnesty International, Data protection Expert Mugambi laibuta and Abraham Mariita, a media specialist at Internews. BAKE Director of Partnership, James Wamathai was the moderator.
Demas Kiprono, emphasized on the importance of freedom of expression saying, “The Computer misuse and Cybercrimes Law that we have in place currently is very problematic. If some of the clauses in there are implemented it will interfere with freedom of speech online.”
Grace Muntungu, talked ofthe role of technology, moreso digital Identity in develomment vis a vis human rights. “Even if everyone has a digital ID, not everyone has access to technology, “she said.
The report is now available for download online on our Ifreedoms Platform.