Simiso Mlevu in Victoria Falls
Postal and Telecommunications Regulation Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) is working on major legislative measures that seek to protect internet users and curb cyber bullying in the country, an official has said.In an interview with journalists on the sidelines of the on-going 13th edition of Innovative Africa Digital Summit (IAD) in Victoria Falls yesterday, Potraz acting director-general Engineer Baxton Sirewu said three draft bills are now in place and are waiting to be taken to Parliament for deliberation.
“Potraz is working with the Government and various stakeholders involved in the security sector to come up with laws that protect online users. As they say, it is true that your rights on-line should be the same as everywhere.”
Eng Sirewu said the regulatory authority is working closely with the Office of the President and Cabinet, Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services, Ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development on the Computer Crime and Cyber Crime Bill, Electronic Transaction and Electronic Commerce Bill and the Data Protection Bill.
He said the Computer Crime and Cyber Crime Bill will address issues like general usage of intelligent devices such as phones, laptops, computers and the security of internet users online.
“The bill provides a legal framework for the criminalisation of computer and network related offences. Principal aims are to criminalise certain illegal content in line with regional and international best practices, provide the necessary specific procedural instruments for the investigation of such offences and define the liability of service providers.”
The Data Protection Bill, he said, is concerned with the online invasion of people’s privacy.
“Right now, if someone collects information about any person online and uses it for malicious purposes, there is no law that can help bring the offender to book,” he said.
Eng Sirewu said the Electronic Transaction and the Electronic Commerce Bill will cater for issues that involve mobile money transfers and online buying.
“There is no specific legal framework that addresses challenges and other issues brought by ICTs in this regard. The existing laws designed to facilitate paper based transactions, not attuned to technology changes with legal rules that require the use of documents, and manuscript signatures.”
He said there were some provisions in the existing laws that are currently being used to address some of the issues on e-transactions and e-commerce.
Once the institutional frameworks are put in place, the bills will be operationalised anytime, he said.
The 13th IAD Summit which is held under the theme: “Affordable Access” is being attended by more than 500 delegates from across the world.
The summit is the largest information and communication technology’s (ICT) gathering on the continent and seeks support the sustainable growth of Africa’s Telecommunications and ICTs sector, identify challenges and proffer solutions.