A an oppressive censorship bill has been tabled in the Kenyan parliament targeting social media group admins and bloggers.
MP Malulu Injendi has tabled The Kenya Information and Communication (Amendment) Bill 2019 which specifically targets
group admins, who will be used to police the kind of content shared in their 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. The bill 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 the Kenyan Communications Authority (CA) to develop a bloggers' code of conduct in consultation with bloggers.
The Communications Authority will
maintain a registry of all bloggers and develop censorship rules for bloggers.
The proposed bill 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.
A teacher in Kuwait has been sentenced to 11 years in prison for tweets that insulted the country's ruler and encouraged his overthrow.
Huda al-Ajmi received the longest known sentence for online dissent in the Gulf state, according to Kuwaiti
She reportedly faced three separate charges that included insulting the Emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, which carries a one-year sentence in itself. The other two five-year prison terms were given for inciting rebellion
against the regime and violating laws on public discussions.
Kuwait has not seen the same scale of pro-democracy uprisings as other Arab states but dozens of people across the Gulf region have been sentenced to jail for Twitter and blog posts in
the past year.
Ms al-Ajmi will be able to appeal her three sentences.
On March 31, Hamad Al Khalidi was sentenced to two years in prison by a Kuwaiti lower court for insulting the Emir of Kuwait on Twitter. He has already begun serving his sentence, though his attorneys plan to file an appeal on April 8.
personally announced the sentence via Twitter:
Because of my opinions I'm sentenced to two years imprisonment with forced labour!
Al Khalidi is one of dozens of opposition activists and former MPs
who have either been sentenced to various jail terms or are on trial on similar charges...More than a dozen youth activists and former MPs have so far been handed down jail terms following a clamp-down on opposition social network users and activists.
Criticising the emir is illegal in Kuwait and is considered to be an offence against state security.
A Kuwaiti court has sentenced an online journalist to prison for supposedly insulting the ruling family on social media, according to news reports. Ayyad al-Harbi was ordered to begin serving the two-year jail sentence immediately, news reports said.
Police arrested al-Harbi on November 13 in connection with a series of posts he made to his personal Twitter account, starting in October, in which he criticized the government and called on authorities to stop oppressing Kuwaiti citizens, according
to news reports.
Al-Harbi's lawyer, Mohammed al-Humidi, said the journalist would be appealing, according to news reports.
Al-Harbi wrote opinion pieces for Sabr, a Kuwait-based independent website that publishes news and commentary. He
wrote extensively about local issues including corruption and freedom of speech in the run-up to the December parliament election. He has also written articles that have called on the Shia minority to revolt against corruption and criticized the
government in connection with their attitudes on freedom of speech and women's rights.
Al-Harbi wrote a post on Twitter on January 6, accusing the government of corruption. The same day, he posted a prediction on Twitter, in which he said he would
be indicted in the coming days for insulting the Alsabah ruling family, the same fate met by Kuwaiti opposition activist Rashed al-Anzi, who had been convicted on the same charge the day before.
CPJ is alarmed by the prison sentence handed to
Kuwaiti journalist Ayyad al-Harbi, said Middle East and North Africa Coordinator Sherif Mansour. We urge the Kuwaiti appellate court to reverse this conviction and uphold the nation's commitment to freedom of expression.
After months of planning, Kuwait's Public Prosecutors Office (PPO) is set to finalize a bill that will punish "Internet offenders" in the country.
It seems that constitutional freedoms no longer extend to Kuwait's large (and still
growing) population of bloggers. Prosecutor General Hamed Al-Othman said that the bill will criminalize the promotion of immoral conduct, encouraging anti-government sentiments, divulging state secrets, or insulting Islam online. Penalties for breaking
the law could involve a 1-year prison sentence (7-years if the insulted party is a minor) and monetary fines.
Speaking of what this new law means for the future of free expression in Kuwait, one blogger told APN this law means two words: shut
up. The blogger also noted that most of the Kuwait blogging community is opposing the looming law. This law is a way to control what bloggers publish online; the government wants to know 'who is this blogger?' They want us to shut up so they are
free to do anything they want. They can't handle the truth.
The blogger provided a list of tips on their website to help other bloggers stay out of trouble when the new Internet law takes effect. Among the tips is remove the times from
comments and leave only dates. As the blogger explains to APN: if I put a comment at 2:03:09 a.m., the government can call all ISP's here in Kuwait and ask for all IP's running at that time. This is more of a safety tip for the commenter than for
the blogger. A scheduled publishing system is a way to protect the blogger. For example, if at 8:00 p.m. I am at the cinema and I have a ticket and at 8:10 p.m. Blogger.com publishes my post, nobody can prove that I published the post.
tips for bloggers include using symbols or codes to refer to taboo public figures rather than their real names.
The Emir of Kuwait has been asked to clarify draft law for regulating Internet
Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard wrote requesting clarification of a draft law for regulating the Internet that was announced by the minister
for religious endowment and Islamic affairs, Abdallah Al-Muhaylbi, who is also the communications minister. The bill is currently being discussed by the ministries of communications and information:
Reporters Without Borders
is closely following the current debate in your emirate about regulating and controlling online content. The minister for religious endowment and Islamic affairs, Abdallah Al-Muhaylbi, last week told the newspaper Al Watan that the government plans to
present a draft law for controlling and organising websites and political blogs with the aim of protecting public order, ensuring respect for decency and preserving the values of Kuwaiti society.
Our organisation is worried about the abuses that
could be committed in the name of such a law and hopes that certain guarantees will be adopted to protect free expression before it is submitted to parliament.
Reporters Without Borders would therefore like to ask you to provide the clarification
that is needed so that this bill can be understood. We appreciate that it is important to regulate the Internet but we also know that this type of law can lead to online censorship. We remind you that in Kuwait, journalists can still be imprisoned for
any activity contrary to national interests. The Internet must not be subjected to the same kind of abuses.