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Facebook, WhatsApp groups admins to operate under license in new regulation

By Mkarimu Media

Facebook and WhatsApp group administrators will be required to operate under license from the Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) if the proposals by a Member of parliament is considered.

The bill by Malava MP Malulu Injendi seeks to regulate social media in the country and will see all social media administrators obtaining licenses from CA to operate. The bill is set to be introduced to Parliament this week.

Administrators will be required to give reasons for starting the group before being licensed.

“A social media user shall ensure that any content published, written or shared through the social media platform does not degrade or intimidate a recipient of the content,” states part of The Kenya Information and Communication (Amendment) Bill, 2019.

“Any person who contravenes the provision of this section commits an offence and shall be liable upon conviction to a fine not exceeding two hundred thousand shillings, or to an imprisonment of a term not exceeding one year,” the bill states.

The proposed bill will also require that WhatsApp group administrators approve members and content using legal documents and closely monitor what is posted on their walls.

The administrator of a WhatsApp group will further be expected to keep all the data of the users of the platform and submit the same to the authorities when required.

They will tight control on their members and kick out those who post offending content.

He or she will also ensure all members are adults.

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.”

Also to be affected by the regulations are bloggers who the Bill defines as those involved in “collecting, writing, editing and presenting of news or news articles in social media platforms or in the internet.”

Those who run blogs without CA’s authority could spend up to two years in jail or pay fines of up to Sh500,000.

The regulator will have a register of bloggers in the country and develop a bloggers’ code of conduct.
To establish a social media group, the Bill proposes that one must have a physical address and data showing all its members.

“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 CA to develop a bloggers’ code of conduct in consultation with bloggers,” reads the Bill’s memorandum of objects and reasons.


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