The controversial Cyber Crime and Cyber Security Draft Bill set to be tabled before Parliament is vague and does not clearly define the ‘cyber crime’ term in line with international definitions, a Media Institute of Southern Africa Zimbabwe official has said.
MISA national director Nhlanhla Ngwenya told a Ministry of ICT, Postal and Courier Services Parliamentary Committee Workshop organized by Media Alliance of Zimbabwe yesterday that Zimbabweans are still delusional about cyber crime.
“We know there is a rise in cyber crimes, I think the challenge that we have is that there is misinterpretation or misinformation around what constitutes a cyber crime.
“We have seen deliberate efforts by the media to come up with a new definition of cyber crime when clearly a cyber crime has been defined in terms of our policies, the government policy is clear on what constitutes a cyber crime,” he said.
He added that the mainstream media is mistaking expressing an opinion on the internet with cyber crime or cyber terrorism.
“But we have had situations where you have the mainstream media actually interpreting your exercise of freedom of expression on social media platforms for instance as cyber terrorism. That does not fall under cyber crime unfortunately because of international definitions,” he said.
Ngwenya explained that Cyber crime put simpler, “is a situation whereby you use your computer, your gadget to commit crime that is fraud, you use your computer at the airport for instance and lock the radar for instance to using your computer systems.”
“That is what constitutes cyber crime. Expressing one’s view on the internet is not cyber crime in terms of international definitions . So thats where the challenge is where we are seeing the emergence or the need to control basically the free flow of information misinterpreting what constitutes a cyber crime,” he said.
He clarified that acts of terrorism are not similar to cyber terrorism.
“Of course we have to be mindful of the fact that there is rise in global terrorism and some terrorist groups are using the computer but that does not mean they are cyber criminals, its basically terrorism.They are using the cyber space for terrorist activities.”
Ngwenya therefore urged the parliamentarians to consider correcting the misapplication of the terms when crafting the final act on Cyber Crime and Cyber Security Bill to avoid impinging on the freedom of expression.
“We must all be aware that Sadc has come up with its own model law, around the cyber crime, the east African bloc has also come up with its own model law, the west African bloc has come up with its model law. the challenge that we have unfortunately is in all these regions is that the states have gone beyond what whey had agreed in terms of the model law.
“Only just recently on November 4, we had another resolution in terms of how to formulate a law on the internet to promote freedoms, the resolution 362 by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights which was adopted on November 4.
He acknowledged that African governments, including Zimbabwe are regulating internet freedoms .
“Generally in Africa there is this recognition that internet rights do matter and there is need to regulate the exercise of these freedoms on the internet.
“And I think this is a positive development on the continental body to try and enlarge African states to try and come up with legislations that these rights are protected.
“In Zimbabwe we have the constitution that guarantees our right to privacy, access to information and so forth. We also have the ICT policy which speaks about infrastructure sharing which also then proposes the collapse of the five internet gateways into one which they are going to call the international backbone on the internet.
“We also have the cyber security policy which that its also being discussed and you would remember in 2014 there was the Posts and Telecommunications Act which came up with the mandatory sim registrations,” said Ngwenya.