Court to rule on what constitutes social media abuse

Court to rule on what constitutes social media abuse

Justice Mumbi Ngugi will Friday afternoon deliver a judgement on the constitutionality of Section 29 of the Kenya Information and Communications Act, a law that creates the offense of misuse of a licensed telecommunication device.

The law makes it an offense to use any licensed telecommunication system, such as cell phone or computer, to send a message or other matter, that is grossly offensive, or of indecent, obscene character.

The law also imposes a fine not exceeding 50,000 shillings, or imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months, or both.

Geoffrey Andare, the main petitioner in the case, filed a constitutional petition at the High Court, challenging the constitutionality of the act.

Andare was arrested in April 2015, for posting a message on Facebook that reprimanded an agency official for allegedly sexually exploiting young girls in exchange for scholarships.

Early this week, a Facebook post cost a man 5 million shillings in damages.

This followed a ruling by Justice Mbogholi Msagha that one Peter Ekisa’s post on the social media platform was libellous to Teso North Member of Parliament Arthur Papa Odera .

Peter o. Ekisa alias Shujaa Peter O. Ekisa’s answer to facebook’s question “what’s on your mind” between February and March 2014 landed him in troubl.

Ekisa will have to pay Teso North Member Of Parliament Arthur Papa Odera 5 million shillings in damages for the facebook post which the court ruled did not only paint Odera as an unprincipled man, but one who is unprofessional, corrupt and has been misusing Uwezo Fund resources.

In his ruling, Judge Mbogholi Msagha said even if he were to claim enjoyment of the freedom of the media, the constitution cannot defend him as that freedom is subject to limitation which include the need to respect the rights and freedoms of other individuals.

According to the court, Ekisa chose the platform intended to be accessed by as many people as possible  embarking on a path of character assassination totally unprovoked and made sure that as many people as possible consumed those allegations, and by refusing to pull down the defamatory post, Ekisa further aggravated matters,

The land mark ruling is expected to set precedence in the corridors of justice where several other cases on issues posted in social media have ended up.

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Maureen Murimi
Story By Maureen Murimi
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