Civil society wants courts to annul latest cyber legislation
Civil society organisations (CSOs) have petitioned the Lusaka High Court to have certain provisions of Zambia’s Cyber Security and Cyber Crimes Law annulled, arguing these are unconstitutional.
The government enacted the Cyber Security and Cyber Crimes Bill last month, despite vehement opposition from CSOs and other stakeholders.
Authorities believe the law will help combat cybercrime, coordinate cyber security matters, develop relevant skills and promote the responsible use of social media platforms.
The organisations, including Bloggers of Zambia, Chapter One Foundation and Peoples’ Action for Accountability and Good Governance, claim the law is the culmination of veiled attempts by the state to intimidate and prosecute members of the public who use the internet to express their views.
They claim that certain provisions within the law are unjustified and unconstitutional in a democratic society.
The CSOs have specified the interception of calls by security officers without a warrant, publication of information which the State deems false, deceptive, misleading and inaccurate, as well as the proposed Central Monitoring and Coordination Centre - the sole facility through which intercepted communications and call-related information will be forwarded.
Chapter One Foundation executive director Linda Kasonde said on behalf of other CSOs that while it was imperative to ensure cyber security, this has to be balanced with the rights to freedom of expression and privacy.
“Despite several statements highlighting specific provisions of the bill which threatened to unjustifiably limit constitutionally guaranteed rights, these provisions have been maintained and are now law,” said Kasonde.