In a move that seems to buck a recent trend for greater control by governments over online activity, Zambia has suggested it will review its controversial Cyber Security and Cyber Crime law.
The law came into effect under the country’s previous administration, which justified the move by claiming that the law would not only help to combat cybercrime and coordinate cyber security, but also develop relevant skills and help promote the responsible use of social media.
That wasn’t the opinion of civil society organisations and opposition parties, however, which voiced strong disapproval of the law
However, as African news site ITWeb reports, following the change of government in August last year, digital and media rights groups have continued to lobby the new administration to revise or repeal the law, citing it as a challenge to establishing a free and independent media. Now President Hakainde Hichilema has responded.
During an address to the media in Lusaka he said the legislation would be reviewed and safeguards implemented to protect citizens from online abuse. He insisted his administration wants to entrench media freedom, but also safeguard the public.
Will this be enough? Those opposed to the law have pointed to its criminalisation of publishing of information or data presented in a picture, image, text or symbol that compromises the safety or security of another person. Richard Mulonga of digital rights organisation Bloggers of Zambia has been quoted as saying: “This is overly broad and vague and can be used to stifle journalistic work.”