Lusaka – Zambian President Edgar Lungu is today (March 19) expected to sign to the Cyber Security and Cyber Crime Bill into law as his administration clamps down on what it calls abuses on digital platforms.
The proposed law has attracted fierce criticism from opponents, who say it restricts freedoms of expression and conscience, while proponents say cyberspace has been weaponised and needs to be regulated.
President Lungu also contends that regulation will be designed to protect children and people’s privacy, and to curb cyberbullying.
“As you very well know, the Cyber Security and Cyber Crime Bill legislation has been passed. I am just waiting for the submission of the document and the statute by Parliament, and as soon as this is done, of course I will sign promptly” he said in Lusaka on March 18.
He commended Parliament for its deliberations on the bill.
“I am sure Parliament did justice to the bill by interrogating each and every section and clause. So I am inclined to believe that the job will be easier for me to simply appraise myself and then sign,” President Lungu said.
He said cyberspace offered many positives, and there was need to root out elements who would want to use it for negative ends.
Critics say while the proposed law has progressive provisions as regards protection of children, some provisions potentially facilitated enhanced surveillance and censorship of the public through interception of communications.
During an ActionAid-sponsored discussion last week, constitutional lawyer and senior research fellow at the Southern African Institute for Policy and Research Mr O’ Brien Kaaba said: “It’s a bad law as it is meant to cripple people’s freedoms and it is vulnerable to abuse by security officers.”