Panos Institute Southern Africa is calling on the Zambian Parliament to seriously reflect on the proposed cyberlaws and their potential negative effect on citizens’ use of online platforms to seek, receive and share information.
In 2017, the government announced, through the Minister of Transport and Communication, plans to table the Cyber Security and Cyber Crime Bill, the Data Protection Bill and the E-commence Bill. While the Minister has indicated that the government intention through these bills is to support productive use of the internet and social media, we are concerned that the bills may achieve the opposite.
As members of the Parliamentary Committee on Media, Information and Communication Technologies continue with their sittings to review information and media policies in Zambia, and to discuss the digital migration programme, we reiterate that Zambia does not need new laws to stop any criminal activity using social online media and ICTs. Panos is of the view that the current laws in the Penal Code, the Computer Crimes and Misuse Act and the Copyright and Performance Rights Acts and the acts of private companies in protecting their privacy and data banks are enough to stop any cyber-crime from being planned and committed in Zambia. Instead of introducing new laws, we encourage Parliament to review and clean up the existing pieces of legislation to make it easier for citizens to use ICTs and online tools to access and share information.
Panos therefore calls on Parliament, through its Committee on Media, Information and Communication Technologies to reject the proposal to introduce new laws, as these may hinder online communication, discourage free flow of information and hinder access to publicly held information.
The people of Zambia look up to Parliament to keep checks and balances on the executive arm of government, and we have full confidence in the committee exercising this oversight in a manner that will address our concerns.