Senate Passes Cyber Security Bill Without Debate
30 July 2021
The Cyber Security and Data Protection Bill sailed through Senate without debate on Wednesday and now awaits President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s assent to become law.
The Bill, if passed into law, will regulate the use of the internet and social media activities to curb computer crimes such as the spreading of pornographic content, and other internet-related fraudulent activities.
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Unlike senators, who were quiet and did not debate the Bill during its Committee Reading Stage on Wednesday, there was heated debate in the National Assembly on the philosophy of the Bill after MPs said it removed certain human rights.
The Bill was criticised on the grounds that it violates fundamental rights such as the right to privacy, the right to freedom of speech and the right to access to information.
Some of the arguments by MPs in the National Assembly were that the new law would remove the right to protect one’s health information.
Media lobby groups, such as the Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Zimbabwe and the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe, have immediately expressed concern over the potential abuse of the piece of legislation by the government to stifle people’s right to information.
However, Chegutu East MP Webster Shamu (ZANU PF), among others, welcomed the new law, saying it would deal with cyber threats that affect governments, individuals and organisations.
Speaking recently during the Second Reading Stage of the Bill in the National Assembly, Shamu said:
Zimbabwe’s war on cybercrime is an aspect that should not be taken lightly. We have to be wary of the technological advantage that can make us lose track of the sovereignty of this nation.
Opposition MPs felt that the law was being crafted to silence divergent views.
They said there was a need for an independent body to regulate internet services as government-controlled bodies could take orders from the Executive.
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