Allan Wadi, the only Kenyan to ever be successfully prosecuted of hate speech was grateful to a training he attended where he gained knowledge on internet and the law, providing him the tools to avoid future arrests. While he is still facing an incitement to violence charge that he was accused of three months ago, he said he is now more aware that his rights end where someone’s else’s start.

Wadi was however convinced that he was made a case study as many others who have made similar and according to him, graver comments online have been let loose. “I feel it was to set me as an example”, he remarked at the end of the training in Kisumu where 43 other young people drawn from the technology enthusiasts, communications students and bloggers attended the day long training.

Senior Prosecution Counsel Duncan Ondimu at the internet and the law training.

Prior to the Kisumu training, a similar training took place in Nairobi where the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPPs) office attended. Duncan Ondimu, the Senior Prosecutions counsel was unequivocal that in this year’s elections, they will be more vigilant on hate speech cases online, arrest any perpetrator and charge them in court. “We will not spare anyone,” he said adding that they have set up a 24 hour desk where anyone can report on hate speech cases and action will be taken immediately.

But what was also concerning some participants was their safety online. Ladies needed to know how to be safer and deal with cyber bullying which digital security trainer Ephraim Muchemi took them through it. Ephraim who also does similar trainings for human rights defenders and journalists across the region advocated for better protection of their equipment including phones and computers as well as passwords to digital assets like emails and social media accounts.

In addition, the participants were trained on data protection and how people can access data but also take control of your machine using spare ware, phishing, key loggers, malware and online scams among other ways.

The objective of the training hosted by the Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE) and supported by the Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) was meant to inform participants on dynamics of internet freedom violations by the state and other actors. The concern was that these violations will mostly affect bloggers and influencers around the electioneering period. There is also a likelihood that the internet will be shut down in Kenya which bloggers and Kenyans online should know how to circumvent it, if it happens.

Mr. Wadi challenged bloggers and social media users to become the main source of information even for the main stream media in exposing any mischief during the election time. “They should also act like observers and update electorates of the voting and tallying processes from various tallying centres”, he asserted.

But he was also critical of BAKE, challenging the association to be helping in bailing out bloggers, educating them more on how to be secure and also empower them.

What was yet to be quenched was practical sessions on digital security both how to protect equipment and digital assets and also how to circumvent possible internet shutdown.