Saturday, June 22, 2024

The Other side of the Cyber Space as President Edgar Lungu Signs new law

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By Anthony Mukwita

When President Edgar Lungu signed the Cyber Security and Cyber Crimes bill into law on 23rd March 2021, reactions from citizens and interest groups were mixed.
Some liked it others hated it, albeit, it had gone full circle in parliament before reaching the President’s desk for his signature.
As a diplomat and published author, every time there´s a new development in my beautiful country Zambia, I study it to prepare myself for questions from colleagues in need of the ´bare bones´ of the development at one point or another.

WHAT IS A CYBER CRIME?

Laws are often penned to correct or prevent a wrong, so firstly I sought to know what constitutes a cyber-crime the new law seeks to cure or prevent, I found a few below:
Among the top are Hate Speech, peddling Child Pornography that could permanently harm our children, Identity Theft, this is when someone steals your identity and use it to commit a crime, Malware, which is when your computers safety is compromised with the aim of stealing your valuable information.

Others are Phishing, Cryptojacking, Cyber Espionage or even slandering and libelling others under the veil of the internet or cyber space, the most common crime in Zambia especially since the rise of the use of the internet on platforms such as Facebook or chat groups.

In Zambia, cyber bulling has become a buzz word that leaves a bitter taste in the mouth but I will concentrate on the economic side of things and skirt away from the political side of things.

A study I read states that ostensibly, “hundreds of millions of cyber attacks occur in Africa annually with up to billions of dollars schemed by offenders that go largely undetected and unpunished” either because of lack laws or tech inabilities by governments.

ZAMBIA LOOSES BILLIONS OF KWACHA VIA THE INTERNET

This is something rarely told in public because of the sensitivity of the banking sector, but Zambian commercial banks have not been left unscathed.
According to a 2016 cyber-attacks study, “Zambia lost up to US$4 million, almost K100 million, in a year about six years ago at the hands of cyber criminals that hacked bank records with the help of local and international cartels according to one study.”
Other African countries such as Ivory Coast recorded about 1,409 cyber-attack complaints in courts in one year recently but the numbers seem to be dropping due to new laws with cash losses of about 8.9 million euros, billions of CFA.

AFRICA THE HAVEN OF CYBER CRIMINALS

Another study says, “Africa has become a nest of cybercriminals of all kinds. For instance, those who specialise in the “419” scam, named after article 419 in Nigerian criminal law, that penalises fraud and specifies the fines and other penalties for this sort of crime.”
The same study says close to home South Africa is worst affected because, “70 percent of South Africans have been hit by a cyber-crime, which is 50 percent of the world average.”

Zambia is among economies more exposed to cyber crimes than any other economies in the world, especially the rich west and Asia and it remains more vulnerable in the absence of laws stipulating punishment.

South African companies lost more than US$500 million dollars in 2014 alone.

ENTER THE ZAMBIAN MOBILE MONEY SECTOR

The rise in mobile banking popularly known as Airtel of MTN money has increases the threat of cyber-crimes says the study.

THE PROS AND CONS OF THE NEW LAW

Given the aforementioned scenario, it appears to me that the new law signed by President Lungu is necessary to punish and prevent those that nilly willy commit crimes online behind the veil of the internet.

I have no doubt that parents want their innocent children protected from perverts and peodofiles masquerading as Ice Cream salesmen online while every person with a bank account wants to ensure their money is safe and accounts are protected by the law.

I have no doubt that everyone wants to enjoy their integrity and not be opened to ridicule on Facebook by people spewing hate, insults and contempt, often without cause under the cover of cyber space, I must know I have been a target.

President Lungu ought to be commended for bravely signing the law (like he did when he signed the 50 percent plus one in 2016) that is expected to spike down the peddling of hate speech and insults that became a daily order in Zambia.

IS THE CYBER LAW OPEN TO ABUSE?

Concerns abound that the cyber law could be abused, just like any law and the answer is if there´s no vigilance, which Zambia isn’t short of, any law is open to abuse.
We are lucky to have a lawyer for a President whom I know would have cancelled out any abuse red flags before inking the law.
It’s also important to note that this law is not cast in stone like the laws of Moses but is open to amendments if found to be excessive.
Historically whenever a new law is introduced, reactions are mixed, which is normal in a democracy.

THE FEAR CREEPETH ON THE BACK OF THE LAW

Evidently, however, those fond of insulting and calling others names under the guise of the internet resent the new cyber law.
In conclusion, President Lungu who once said, “a stitch in time saves nine,” because a plan is better than no plan.

Don’t forget that some of the crimes committed online result into death like the 2013 Westgate attack at a mall in Nairobi Kenya were terrorists killed 68 people and injured 200.

I got additional readings for this essay from a paper entitled “Cyber Crimes in Africa 2016” and the new Zambian cyber law 2021, which is available to the public on only.

The Author is the Ambassador of Zambia to Germany. This personal essay was inspired by the recent enactment of the Cyber Security law of Zambia by President Edgar Lungu on 23rd March 2021.

25 COMMENTS

  1. That said there laws that people have been prosecuted on already.
    It remains to be seen if the current crooks who got away scot-free even after reporting and authorities possessing the ability to bring them to book will now be arrested.
    The disturbing part of the bill is the monitoring of all communication hindering any privacy without cause and in conflict with the Constitution.Theres a real risk of passwords falling in the hands of the ‘monitors’ and to whom will you report?

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  2. Sir you have said a bunch of nothing. As an appointed diplomat, you are biased to support this law. “A person who using a computer system intentionally initiates any electronic communication, with the intent to coerce, intimidate, harass, or cause emotional distress to a person commits
    an offence and is liable, on conviction, to a fine not exceeding five hundred thousand penalty units or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years, or to both”. How do you prove intent? This is terrible law

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  3. We also need a law whereby areas that voted for the ruling party should be paying some economy bullying tax when the kwacha -dollar rate goes into double digits, this would make politicians handle the economy with care.

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  4. Tutwa Ngulube, the current PF MP for Kabwe central has been rejected by the party. That party has adopted someone else to stand as its candidate in the forthcoming elections.

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  5. There’s hate speech outside cyberspace which has gone unpunished in Zambia. Wht’s so special about hate speech in cyberspace? Edgar Lungu’s government has tolerated hate speech by government officials.

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  6. “Cherry picking may be committed intentionally or unintentionally. This fallacy is a major problem in public debate.”

    “University of Zambia political scientist Lee Habasonda says Mr Scott’s critics may mount a legal challenge against his appointment by invoking the constitution’s “parentage clause” which requires the president to be a “third generation” Zambian.”-BBC

    Please International community for now stay away.

    “Recalling an ambassador is rare, especially when an ambassador is arguing for American values abroad.”-CNN

    PF time out.

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  7. Sir seems you have nothing to do out there as a diplomat because now you have just resorted to writing hogwash articles. Your previous write-up wasn’t inspiring either, maybe just ask for leave and come back home to campaign for your appointing authority.

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  8. We expect lungu to shut the Internet during elections like MU7 did, even possibly cell phone services, by as usual citing threats that are lies ……..

    The opposition should start preparing to work without official communication channels between them selves as these will be shut down by lungu…….

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  9. Well written piece. Surely only those who thrive in confusion will oppose this law. Fake pages are being pulled down from online media houses. The time of hiding behind the keyboard and insult others or write fake news or lie about others is gone. One prominent chap, a photographer by the name of chella is appearing in court after writing something about a cabinet ministers.

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  10. What a hastily write up by a shameless bootlicker to appease his boss in State House …he says Zambia loses XXX billion from cyber crime without citing his sources and he goes to outline his Pros and Cons of the bill but only highlights the pros. Please Anthony dont write such articles especially that you only want to appease and keep your job in Germany Embassy.

  11. ALEXANDER Zingman, who is reported in some sections of the media to be Zimbabwe’s honorary consul to Belarus, was this week arrested in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The deadly cocktail of politics, mining and arms deals in the region has draw the attention of the United Nations Security Council as the “can of worms” erupt.
    Watch “Arrest of Mnangagwa’s Belarus crony opens can of worms | Zimbabwe News | Zim News |” on YouTube

  12. The cyber bill is only hated by cyber criminals such as upnd diasporans. They know that their times are coming up. We are closing in on them. Infact I have a Skype call with lusaka times officials and the bloggers association where one of my recommendations is that they take a stronger stance against abusive bloggers who criticize and insult the zambian government. Failing which, we will block access to Lusaka times in zambia

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  13. They gassed their own people , resulting in over 50 lynching deaths of innocents , not a single update to the nation about investigations ……….

    And you think lungu will give you an honest cyber law ??

    Lungu only cares about protecting himself and his ill gotten wealth together with his cronies……..

  14. Its disappointing to hear from one that calls himself a published author and a journalist. As the world knows journalists are supposed to inform their readership of substantive issues they write to bring meaningful narrative to the public domain. Journalists while informing the general public present critique to make sense of the conversation. Anthony Mukwita is simply parroting his masters voice. His attempt to cite international cyber crime falls short of mentioning the glaring abuse by Yaweri Museni of Uganda and the Junta Military of Myanmar who are killing their nationals at will. China is another example of cyber law abuse on a large scale unknown to the world. Zambia has not experienced any real crime to warrant cyber law in place. What will result over the abuse of this will make…

  15. What will result over the abuse of this will make Anthony Mukwita become ashamed to write about the abuse to be applied selectively by this current government.

  16. That way, only the clueless and reckless PF regime gets to waitress on its served menu of governance lies and marinated violence. It is not disputable that the courts of law will be working overtime in the near future to interprete and adjudicate on a boat load of overzealous and bogus cases that regime enablers will paste on their political opponents for alleged reputational infractions on regime enablers, including Mr. Lungu himself.
    But again, law is political warfare by other means. And that is why regime change in upcoming general elecdtions is crucially important as a minimum starting point to undo potential covid-like savage effects of some aspects of this cyber crimes law. We pray that this will be one of the final eggregious legal epitaphs that will be emblazoned on the PF…

  17. We pray that this will be one of the final eggregious legal epitaphs that will be emblazoned on the PF grave as Zambians bury them in August Polls.

  18. Precisely,Chella is being prosecuted under the then law,there was no need for the Cyber Security Law!
    This law is meant for opponents and critics.How do we know how well we’re doing if everyone says all is well when all is not well.We also need the critics.

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