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Zim cyber crime bill needs review claims media group

By , Journalist
Zimbabwe , 09 Mar 2017

Zim cyber crime bill needs review claims media group

Zimbabwe's Computer and Cyber Crime Bill, which has drawn criticism from local media and human rights groups, is yet to be brought before parliament.

There have been mixed reactions to the draft law, with the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zimbabwe saying: "Zimbabwe's cybercrime bill should be re-drafted. It doesn't recognise (the) constitutional right to privacy."

The Cyber Crime Bill says in part that "any person who, unlawfully and intentionally generates, possesses, and distributes an electronic communication, with the intent to coerce, intimidate, harass, threaten bully or cause emotional distress, degrade humiliate or demean the person of another person, using a computer system or information system shall be guilty of an offence."

Offenders will be "liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding level 10 or imprisonment not exceeding five years" or both.

An ICT expert and member of the Digital Society of Zimbabwe, who requested to remain anonymous, said, "We have raised concerns which we hope will be addressed in the revisions the Ministry says it is inputting".

These include flagging provisions that will capacitate the state to tightly regulate usage of Over the Top (OTT) services and monitoring of private communications, he explained.

ICT Minister Supa Mandiwanzira said last month that the bill was "unusual" but advised civic society organisations and other rights campaigners not to worry because the government would be taking all concerns into account.

"We have no intention to undermine the rights of Zimbabweans to use the cyberspace, but we have a very strong intention to protect those who use this, our children our society and our businesses," he said.

The country's telecommunications industry regulator, Potraz said this week that there are no "strict age verification procedures" online that ensure that young children are not exposed to improper social media and other online content.

Potraz is planning a campaign to encourage parents to monitor their children's internet use, as well as urge schools to teach learners safe and responsible use of the internet.

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