In a move which is set to bring some disquiet to social media users and bloggers, Facebook and WhatsApp group administrators will soon be required to obtain licences from the Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) before setting up social media groups.

These rules are contained in a bill that is expected to be tabled in Parliament this week. It proposes that users and group admins that allow offending content on their platforms should be jailed. The Bill is sponsored by Malava MP Malulu Injendi.

Part of The Kenya Information and Communication (Amendment) Bill, 2019, states that, “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.”

It continues to state that, “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.”

Also, the owners of the media platform will be required to carry out due diligence to ensure that all its users “are of age of majority.” This effectively locks out minors from joining or posting comments on social media platforms controlled by adults. The Bill also proposes that one must have a physical address and data showing all its members

The Bill defines social media platforms to as “online publishing and discussion, media sharing, blogging, social networking, document and data sharing repositories, social media applications, social bookmarking and widgets.”

The bill also seeks to regulate bloggers in that, blogs which are run without the CA’s authority could find the owners spending two years in jail or paying fines of up to Sh500,000. It also states that the regulator will have a register of bloggers in the country and develop a bloggers’ code of conduct.

The Bill’s memorandum of objects and reasons, reads as follows; “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.”