The Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE) is against the blanket condemnation of bloggers. In a statement released two days ago, the National Bank of Kenya (NBK) has said it is aggrieved by increased number of social media users including a blogger who publishes malicious and untruthful information about reputation- sensitive institutions like banks.
The statement further stated that the bank has written to various regulatory institutions urging them to take action against bloggers for defaming institutions.
Following the NBK statement, BAKE – through its Director of Partnerships James Wamathai – stated the following;
1. Bloggers are regulated by the Constitution. Article 33 of the Constitution which is about freedom of expression has limits on these freedoms.
2. Bloggers who are members of BAKE are guided by a code of ethics which informs the limits they should not go as they create content online. Those who cross the line are expelled from the association.
3. The Media Council of Kenya (MCK) does not have jurisdiction over bloggers. Bloggers are not given frequencies by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK) or fall under the guidelines on what MCK can regulate in the Media Council (Amendment) Act 2013.
4. Inviting policy level intervention and state punishment will not solve the problem. The same blogger can be anonymous and create the content from elsewhere, beyond the jurisdiction of Kenya and that information will be public and shared online.
5. NBK should consider charging the said blogger for defamation, which is legislated in law.
BAKE is proud to be associated with trustworthy online content creators including bloggers. There are many responsible and articulate bloggers in Kenya and to condemn all of them on account of one is unfortunate and inaccurate. It is also to deny them a decent living and fail to recognize their hard earned sweat, they put in to create credible online content. This is against the rule of natural justice.
Anyone who feels another person, by any means, whether verbal or through a media outlet including blogging platforms publishes content that disparages their reputation should seek guidance from the courts to punish the said individuals. A number of institutions and individuals have already filed such cases in court.
Organizations can also be proactive in dispelling these untrue statements and online content through engagement. We invite any institution, including NBK or any other reputation-sensitive organization to seek an appointment with BAKE to better understand how bloggers work and how they can effectively and sustainably provide accurate information about their brand.