Cyber Crime Bill: The details
Lloyd Gumbo Senior Reporter
Internet service providers will be compelled to disclose the source of any content that is considered cyber crime, while courts will be expected to accept electronic evidence when culprits are arraigned before them.
This is contained in the Computer Crime and Cyber Crime Bill to be presented to Parliament soon that is expected to protect Zimbabweans from cyber terrorists.
The proposed law comes against the backdrop of some Zimbabweans locally and abroad who are using the Internet to communicate subversive material which seeks to unconstitutionally remove Government through violence.
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Under Section 35 (1) on interception of content data, the Bill provides that; “If a magistrate is satisfied on the basis of an application by a police officer, supported by affidavit that there are reasonable grounds to suspect or believe that the content of electronic communications is reasonably required for the purposes of a criminal investigation, the magistrate may;
“(a) Order an Internet service provider whose service is available in Zimbabwe through application of technical means to collect or record or to permit or assist competent authorities with the collection or recording of content data associated with specified communications transmitted by means of a computer system; or
(b) authorise a police officer to collect or record that data through application of technical means,” reads the Bill.
Section 36 (1) on forensic tool, the Bill says; “If a magistrate is satisfied on the basis of an application by a police officer, supported by affidavit that in an investigation concerning an offence listed in paragraph 7 herein-below or regulations made under Section 45 there are reasonable grounds to believe that essential evidence cannot be collected by applying other instruments listed in this part but is reasonably required for the purposes of a criminal investigation, the magistrate may authorise a police officer to utilise a remote forensic tool with the specific task required for the investigation and install it on the suspect’s computer system in order to collect the relevant evidence.
“The application needs to contain the following information:
(a) suspect of the offence, if available with name and address if available, and
(b) description of the targeted computer system, and
(c) description of the intended measure, extent and duration of the utilisation, and
(d) reasons for the necessity of the utilisation.”
On admissibility of electronic evidence Section 28 (1) states that “In proceedings for an offence against a law of Zimbabwe, the fact that evidence has been generated from a computer system shall not by itself prevent that evidence from being admissible.”
The Bill also abhors racism and xenophobic material on Section 17 where it states that a person who, intentionally without lawful excuse or justification or in excess of a lawful excuse or justification;
produces racist and xenophobic material for the purpose of its distribution through a computer system;
offers or makes available racist and xenophobic material through a computer system;
distributes or transmits racist and xenophobic material through a computer system;
commits an offence punishable, on conviction, by imprisonment for a period not exceeding [period] , or a fine not [amount] , or both.
Under Section 18 on racist and xenophobic motivated insult, the Bill states that a person who, intentionally without lawful excuse or justification or in excess of a lawful excuse or justification publicly, through a computer system, uses language that tends to lower the reputation or feelings of;
persons for the reason that they belong to a group distinguished by race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin, as well as religion, if used as a pretext for any of these factors or
a group of persons which is distinguished by any of these characteristics.
Section 23 that covers harassment utilising means of electronic communication, the Bill provides that’
(1) A person, who intentionally without lawful excuse or justification or in excess of a lawful excuse or justification initiates any electronic communication, with the intent to coerce, intimidate, harass, or cause substantial emotional distress to a person, using a computer system to support severe, repeated, and hostile behaviour, commits an offence punishable, on conviction, by imprisonment for a period not exceeding five year, or a fine not exceeding level ten, or both.