Bill to fight cyber crime gazetted  

Sindiso Mhlophe

©️ THE Cyber Crime, Security and Data Protection Bill will finally be debated in Parliament and if approved, individuals found guilty of violating its provisions will face up to seven years’ imprisonment.

The government yesterday gazetted the Bill which was first approved by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Cabinet late last year.
It provides for penalties for the transmission of data messages inciting violence and damage to property, protection of citizens against cyber bullying, harassment and measures to address the dissemination of racist and xenophobic material.
It is also aimed at combating cybercrime while increasing cyber security.
“The purpose of this Bill is to consolidate cyber related offences and provide for data protection with due regard to the Declaration of Rights under the Constitution and the public and national interest, to establish a Cyber Security Centre and a Data Protection Authority, to provide for their functions, provide for investigation and collection of evidence of cybercrime and unauthorised data collection and breaches, and to provide for admissibility of electronic evidence for such offences.
“It will create a technology driven business environment and encourage technological development and the lawful use of technology,” reads the Bill.
The Bill sets stiff imprisonment penalties of up to seven years for individuals who contravene its provisions.
“Any data controller, his or her representative, agent or assignee who contravenes section 11, 18(4), 24 and 28 shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level 11 or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding seven years or to both such fine and such imprisonment.
“Upon conviction by a Court of competent jurisdiction the Court may order the seizure of the media containing the data to which the offence relates, such as manual filing systems, magnetic discs or magnetic tapes, except for computers or any other equipment, or the deletion of the data.
“Any member of staff of the Authority or any expert, contractor, sub-Cyber Security and Data Protection contractor who violates the provisions of this Act shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level seven or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years or to both such fine and such imprisonment,” reads the Bill.
The Bill also provides for the designation of the Cyber Security Centre within the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe.
“The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority established in terms of the Postal and Telecommunications Act (Chapter 12:05) is hereby designated as the Cyber Security Centre.
“The functions of the Cyber Security Centre shall be to advise government and implement government policy on cybercrime and cyber security, identify areas for intervention to prevent cybercrime, coordinate cyber security and establish a national contact point available daily around-the-clock, establish and operate a protection-assured whistle-blower system that will enable members of the public to confidentially report to the Committee cases of alleged cybercrime, promote and coordinate activities focused on improving cyber security and preventing cyber crime by all interested parties in the public and private sectors,” further reads the Bill.
The Bill, which was criticised by analysts for attempting to gag freedom of expression, also provides for a whistle blower system to assist with investigations into matters involving cybercrime.
It further provides for the regulation of disseminating sensitive personal information, sensitive data and health data and the transfer  of personal information in Zimbabwe.


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