Zambia to force ISPs to help with cybercrime


Zambia's government has tabled several Bills it says are aimed at curbing cybercrime and strengthening digital security within the telecom sector. However, a source within the Ministry of Communications and Transport has said the data protection Bill will be used to force ISPs to help authorities.

The Bills cover cybercrime, data protection, e-transmissions and eGovernment and according to Minister of Communications and Transport Brian Mushimba said the pending legislation is aimed at improving security and making the sector more attractive for investment.

Amid warnings by authorities of stern action against those who leak and circulate confidential government information over social media, cyberstalking has also emerged as a challenge.

"Through the bill, the government will propose to parliament to adjust and update information and Communications Technology Act No. 15 of 2009 to strengthen the regulatory mandate of the Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) in order to provide the institution with clear enforcement capabilities for execution of statutory rules and procedures outlined in the Act," Mushimba said.

A source within the Ministry of Communications and Transport has told ITWeb Africa that while cybercrime bill will be used to prosecute cyber crimes, the data protection bill will be used to compel ISPs to help the government identify and track down people generating, circulating and distributing information on social media that the bill will define as cybercrime - as well as confidential government information.

The government considers anyone who posts information it deems false on social media or posting "offensive publications" against senior government officials to be a cybercriminal.

If enacted, Zambia will join Nigeria among other countries in the region that have cyberstalking laws.

Since Nigeria's cybercrime Act was voted into law in May 2015, authorities have used the law to harass and press charges against anyone who criticises politicians and other government officials online.

While the penalty for anyone convicted of cyberstalking is not known under the new bill in Zambia, in Nigeria cyberstalking carries a fine of up to 7 million Naira and a maximum three-year jail term.