By Sean Tembo
1. As Patriots for Economic Progress (PeP), we have noted the raging debate on the Cyber Security and Cyber Crimes Bill No.2 of 2021 which is currently awaiting Presidential assent. The main arguments against the Bill are that it gives a lot of arbitrary powers to respective law enforcement officers, which powers might be subject to abuse and these powers also offend some parts of the Bill of Rights in the Constitution.
Our considered view is that the powers which are bestowed on law enforcement officers by the Cyber Security and Cyber Crimes Bill are no more than the powers which are already bestowed on law enforcement officers by the Criminal Procedure Code Act, Cap 88 of the laws of Zambia. Therefore there is nothing new to debate here.
2. As Patriots for Economic Progress, it is our firm belief that in order for law enforcement agencies to do their job, which is to fight crime, they need to be appropriately empowered with an adequate amount of authority. However, it is inescapable that this authority might be abused from time to time.
The solution to this potential problem is not to limit the amount of authority bestowed on law enforcement agencies, but rather to deal with specific cases of abuse of investigative authority as and when it occurs. Restricting the amount of authority bestowed on law enforcement agencies, as argued by some in the debate over the Cyber Security and Cyber Crimes Bill, would have the overall effect of undermining the entire criminal justice system and would be inimical to the interests of the nation.
3. As Patriots for Economic Progress, our detailed review of the Cyber Crimes and Cyber Security Bill No. 2 of 2021 revealed that it is largely a mere translation of the longstanding Criminal Procedure Code Act, Cap 88 of the laws of Zambia, albeit tailored to apply in the non-physical cyber space.
The Zambian people must be reminded that technology in general and the internet in particular has created and will continue to create vast security challenges which require to be decisively addressed, if Zambia is going to fully embrace the cyber space and use it to enhance our overall economic productivity. Already the amount of money that is lost through mobile money fraud in Zambia today is huge.
This and other related cyber security challenges require to be firmly addressed. Therefore, it is our position that those that have been arguing against this Bill have taken a monolithic view of the matter at hand which is devoid of consideration of other wider public interests. A holistic viewpoint is not only necessary but critical in the matter at hand. Let us not be penny wise and pound foolish.