CYBER-LAWYERS REQUIRED FOR KENYA'S KNOWLEDGE ECONOMY

This week I have had several chats with some of my learned friends about the Communication (Amendment) Act 2008. I am convinced that there are still major gaps or areas of improvement if we are to have a conducive legal environment for the growth of a knowledge economy. Perhaps the biggest gap is the basic one of awareness among law enforcers, advocates, judges, prosecutors and the public in general.

Many of my learned friends are either themselves ignorant of the existence of the law or are simply skeptical that it is not a practical law. Various sections of the law seem simply Utopian to the some of the lawyers. Some lawyers merely dismiss it as a law doomed to automatically contradict other existing laws. With the lawyers themselves skeptical about our cyber-laws the public confidence on economic activity through the web and other electronic platforms is seriously undermined.

The communication amendment act having already been passed and signed, there are at least two more bills outstanding with the ministry of ICT that will further enhance our knowledge economy - The Freedom Of Information (FOI) bill and the Data Protection Bill. There is need for greater professional participation in the development of these bills especially among legal fraternity and the IT industry. It might also help a great deal for the proposed bills to be presented for discussion in our universities' legal, business, media and information technology schools. Apart from enriching the contents of the bills, such presentations will double up to achieve the much needed publicity and advocacy among the youth who are ultimately driving the knowledge economy.

In general, there seems to be a dire need to interest many more lawyers on ICT and knowledge management disciplines. Perhaps this needs to be addressed by enhancing the our university law offerings or through continuing education for the already learned friends. Some of our universities may already be sensing this need, which may have necessitated Anthony Okulo's presentation - Development of a legal framework for e-commerce in Kenya during the Strathmore University's 9th ICT seminar (September 2008)