(Download and read the KCA Bill 2008 (PDF) here)
Regarding the Kenya communication (amendment) bill 2008: Like with the last controversial media bill, getting a copy of the bill that has the media up in arms has not been easy.
I’ve seen one PDF version of the bill, and these are some other aspects of the bill brought forward by now cowed permanent secretary Bitange Ndemo and hapless Minister Samuel Pogishio which was on January 3 2009 signed by President Kibaki who hailed at as a milestone bill for e-commerce
What’s in it?
Content government which produces the most content gets to decide what’s in the in the public interest? Who knows what’s in demand e.g. all TV stations play music videos targeted at youth - and does that meet the requirement to of Kenyan programs that serve children - also set what time programs can be shown – does the CCK have time for this really?
Controversial topics: coverage must be balanced and where a complaint is lodged e.g. on a news story, must take action
E-mail (electronic record) now recognized as official communication. E.g. companies with tens of thousands of shareholders, legal correspondence
Electronic contracts are now recognized in law e.g. by e-mail – they can also can include security features like an e-signature, and can be for official government transactions
Electronic signatures now recognized except for wills, and title deeds
Electronic fraud/forgery now outlawed, but the maximum fine is just 200,000 (~$2,500) or two years in jail
Electronic files now admissible in court if it meets criteria specified e.g. the requirement of banks to provide physical statement and letters in court, can now be substituted by printouts. In addition tasks performed over several computer networks can be deemed t have been on one computer and qualify
Kenya gazette electronic version of the Kenya gazette now recognized as authority
Fair play new restriction include monopoly of programming and unfair competitors may be fined up to 10% of revenue (ii) but also discrimination of some kind is banned – this could be outdated as mobile companies in Tanzania and Uganda have introduced location based discounts - depending on their location at the time of calling and the level of traffic on the network
Hacking now outlawed, but the maximum fine is just 200,000 (~$2,500) or two years in jail. Elsewhere it states a fine of 1 million and jail of 5 years
Infrastructure sharing e.g. mobile phone towers may be shared, where no agreement can be reached between providers minister may mandate this (co-location)
Mobile phone reprogramming outlawed 300,000 or 3 years in jail for those seeking to unlock the I-phone. Elsewhere it has been said even downloading or changing the ring tone on your phone constitute reprogramming
Movie censorship empowers decisions made by the Kenya film censorship board ? to bar/edit films they have reviewed
Pornography outlawed– publication of obscene material online (including forwarding of obscene e-mail) liable to a fine of 200,000 and 2 years jail.
Vernacular radio/TV elevates and restricts vernacular broadcast stations – mandates that members of the community participate in the selection and provision of programs to be broadcast. But also restricts what parts of the country they can be broadcast - what is the interest of one media house to broadcast in several languages?
- Regulator CCK (communications commission of Kenya) gets powers it does not need nor do the members understand, but they can hold them just in case, or till the day they need them like the next election
- New tax (i) universal service fund charged on all licenses – mobile phones, television, radio etc. which the minister for information will set. funds raised can be given out as loans or grant for provision of service to rural or under-served areas
Overall an omnibus bill combines communications and broadcast, good and bad characteristics, it is here to stay and we all have to adapt to it now that it is law
More training needs to be done now, at the judiciary - on the new laws, at banks and companies - on the consequence of e-mail communication since its now binding and enforceable, and in offices everywhere - on the sharing of passwords and other secure resources
Banks have a framework for e-commerce; also there’s more government bureaucracy in this bill – a universal service advisory council, and more members to the CCK Board.