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By Simba Chikanza| The government of Zimbabwe yesterday approved a new law that will cause the arrest of all citizens who comment on the Internet expressions that are deemed not “ethical.”
The bill is dubbed the Cyber Crime, Security and Data Protection.
It leaves to be seen how the bill will be administered, seeing that ZANU PF leader, Emmerson Mnangagwa should be the first to be charged since he is the gang leader of a group of online bullies, known as Varakashi.
Already the bill has been announced by the state media with the Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi being introduced as a political comrade “Cde,” rather than a cabinet minister.
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Below is the state media full text –
Cabinet yesterday approved the Cyber Crime, Security and Data Protection Bill which seeks to combat cyber crimes and enhance security in the wake of rampant abuse of the platform.
The Bill, which provides for an array of issues such as code of conduct and ethics, data protection authority and penalties for violations, will be gazetted soon. It will be tabled in Parliament for debate thereafter.
This was said by Industry and Commerce Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu while briefing journalists about the 35th Cabinet decision matrix in Harare yesterday.Minister Ndlovu was standing in for Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa.
“Cabinet considered and approved the Cyber Crime, Cyber Security and Data Protection Bill, which was presented by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs (Cde Ziyambi Ziyambi.) The Bill seeks to combat cyber crime and increase cyber security in order to build confidence and trust in the secure use of information communication technologies,” said Minister Ndlovu.
He said the Bill will also address issues to do with codes of conduct and ethics.
“More specifically, the Bill provides for the following: provision and approval of codes of conduct and ethics to be observed by all categories of data controllers, data protection with due regard to constitutional rights and public interest under (the) Postal, Telecommunication and Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe,” said Minister Ndlovu.
“It will also seek to establish a data security centre and a Data Protection Authority, investigation and collection of evidence relating to Cyber Crime and unauthorised Data Collection and breaches thereof.”
He said the Bill will also seek to spell out the admissibility of electronic evidence for such offences and penalties for offences committed under the Act.
“The Bill will also provide penalties for the transmission of data messages inciting violence and damage to property, protection of citizens against cyber bullying and harassment, measures to address the production and dissemination of racist and xenophobic material using language that tends to lower the reputation or feelings of persons for the reason that they belong to a group of persons distinguished on the grounds set out in section 56 subsection 3 of the Constitution,” said Minister Ndlovu.
He said the Bill will provide for penalties for persons who generate, distribute or broadcast data concerning an identifiable person knowing it to be false and intending to cause psychological or economic harm; and curbing the transmission of pornographic material.
“In essence, the Bill advocates the use of ICTs for more constructive purpose,” said Minister Ndlovu.
There have been growing calls among citizens for Government to come up with mechanisms that control the abuse of the internet insofar as it has been used to tarnish the images of other people and used to propagate lies and hurtful messages.