Zambia passes controversial cyber crime law
Zambia’s government has enacted the controversial Cyber Security and Cybercrime Bill, despite vehement opposition from civil society and official opposition political party the United Party for National Development (UPND).
Government claims the law will help combat cyber crime, coordinate cyber security matters, develop relevant skills and help promote the responsible use of social media platforms.
It will also facilitate the identification, declaration and protection of national critical infrastructure, it adds.
However, the UPND, along with the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) and other civil society organisations, have rejected the legislation.
Linda Kasonde from Chapter One Foundation, representing several organisations including Transparence International Zambia, ActionAid Zambia and Council of Churches in Zambia, says they believe proposed changes to the law contained provisions that facilitate censorship of the public through interception of communication.
Specifically, Kasonde adds that there is concern over the proposed establishment of the Central Monitoring and Coordination Centre, the sole facility through which intercepted communications and call-related information will be forwarded.
“Provisions of the bill which empowers the Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) to institute investigations upon receiving information regarding an alleged cyber security incident or cyber security attack are particularly worrying. The provision does not describe the source of this information or even define what cyber security threat is or how it will be determined,” says Kasonde.
UPND leader Jack Mwiimbu describes the Bill as one of the most controversial piece of legislation since the country’s independence.
He says: “This particular bill enables institutions to listen to conversations of individuals. It takes away the rights of Zambians to privacy. It’s a fact that security wings have now been mandated to ensure that if there are issues, they will listen, monitor conversations and correspondence. The danger is that the privacy of individuals will be violated.”