By Alex Roberts
Ah, yes, and here we are again, asking heavy handed questions of ideas that never truly deserved to see the light of day. The latest in the line of light bulb ideas for media suppression lies within the Kenya Information and Communications (Amendment) Act, 2019. The proposed bill (yes, the non-capitalization is intentional); stipulates that the owners and runners of social media outlets including blogs, Facebook groups and What’sApp messenger groups; must apply and be licensed by the government of Kenya in order to continue operating in good standing.
And to avoid fines…of KSh 200,000.
And to avoid jail time….of up to a year.
Is that right? Well, the editorial stance of the EA Scene is for those attempting to ram through this nonsense to thoroughly fuck off, preferably with a self-implemented gag order effecting themselves so that they may continue driving themselves around in state-issued Mercedes basking in the blissful silence of selling out.
This is exactly the kind of nonsense that should have been eradicated, never to be heard from again within the pages of Kenya’s Constitution, not even a decade old. Did the powers at be sign over guarantees during procurement negotiations to the Chinese that Kenya’s citizens would follow down the same route of totalitarian communication black out?
The drastic nature of this bill cannot be understated, it is an absolute attempt (a continuation of several prior to this) to cut the independent media and communication channels of Kenya at the knees; and in the process hit it on the ankles with claw hammers.
Don’t think so? Well dig this:
Within the bill are the following stipulations:
-That a blogger should have a physical office in Kenya;
-That users of the social media platform be subject to registration of all users using proven legal documents;
-A requirement in place that the owner of the license keep all the data of the users of its platform and will submit the same data to the Commission when required to do so;
-The owner of the license carries out the proper due diligence to ensure that all its users, if Kenyan citizens are of age of majority;
-That the Commission can revoke a license granted under this section where the licensee is in breach of its terms and conditions provided within a subsection of the bill (2).
Could that be spelled out any more plainly? It is a desperately blatant attempt to suppress freedom of thought, contain the ability to communicate of the youth, monitor political dissent and attempt to control free access to the wealth of information of the internet.
The effects of this could be long lasting, and have drastic impacts in a myriad of areas. Take for instance, that blogging is a solid income stream for many a young creative, and such fees for licensing (and the heavy threat of the undue fines and draconian penalties) are enough to scare off many a budding contributor to Kenya’s creative economy. To kill such in the crib would be an utter fucking shame, and an awkward step into unknown ramifications.
There is no honest reason, despite what those pushing for the bill may say, that can stand as a valid reason to engage in this level of censorship; the root of the reason is to suppress voices of dissent and creativity from their very root- nip them in the bud before the ideas blossom. In more blunt terms, it’s some bullshit, served up hot and barely packaged well enough to disguise the fecal-based reasons within it.
The object of desire within Donald Trump’s dreams should always be looked at with nothing more than disgust and the same rules as true in the case of this bill. Indeed, the best use by bloggers and social media members, if presented with the print version of this proposed bill; is to ensure to wipe yourself thoroughly with it after squatting; the content is equal to such a reaction. Parliament, shall Kenyans get your permission to wipe next?