There has been so much focus and debate on the new ICT policy which was recently passed by the parliament of Zimbabwe and awaiting presidential assent, while the main story is proof of abundance ignorance of our own laws.
The latest policy to be approved has been recently quoted by many publications and would be analysts as a hot trending topical, alas there is really nothing new under the same piece of legislation.
So much controversy has ben quoted on the interception of communication act, a piece which legalizes and empowers government to intercept information which it deems of national state security, however there is nothing new on the legislation of it there of.
While the new ICT policy has already been presented to cabinet, .the current ICT bill which we are using is nothing but an old piece of legislation, which came into effect in 9 years ago, and was gazetted on Friday 3rd August, 2007 as the Act No. 6 of 2007, with Chapter 11:20,which gives arms of the state exclusive power to spy, intercept or tape into any form of communication. To safeguard Against cyber crimes
The law which has been running even before the Chamisa era as ICT minister should have been the focus as we have already been legally demanded to abide under it, otherwise Zimbabweans have been ignorant of their own statutes.
However there has been so much hype and scrutiny into the law with the rise of social media in Zimbabwe, which then has called the government to accelerate the ICT policy in line with the current environment of social media age, with specifically cyber law in mind.
They are various forms of cyber-crimes, which basically are crimes committed using a device which can send or receive messages which include defamation, bullying, harassment, fraud, terrorism and pornography.
Socially this is how people see it but in a technological world, “Computer criminals can be youthful hackers, disgruntled employees and company insiders, or international terrorists and spies.”26 These criminals become “cybercriminals” when their crimes involve the use of a computer. “A computer may be the ‘object’ of a crime,” or in other words, “the criminal targets the computer itself
A computer may also be the ‘subject’ of a crime, or in other words, it “is the physical site of the crime, or the source of, or reason for, unique forms of asset loss. For examples of this type of crime are viruses, logic bombs, and sniffers. Finally, “a computer may be the ‘instrument’ used to commit traditional crimes like identity theft.
The other critical part to curbing and controlling cyber crimes rest wholly on the government ability to intercept or tap into the information that is being sent, without violating the basic human rights of its citizens.
However, the right to privacy is a fundamental human right guaranteed in all the major human rights treaties. The right to privacy is, however, not an absolute right, and the law Is applied separately across various countries .
Corresponding laws have always been in existence as well, under the Postal and Telecommunication Act (Chapter 12:05) it is an offence to send through a telephone any threatening message or series of messages which are grossly offensive, annoying, false, indecent, obscene or of threatening character.
Under the law, The Zimbabwean law enforcing agencies, are empowered to intercept any information through a legal channel and these are but only limited to: a) the Chief of Defence Intelligence or his or her nominee; (b) the Director-General of the President’s department responsible for national security or his or her nominee; (c) the Commissioner of the Zimbabwe Republic Police or his or her nominee; (d) the Commissioner-General of the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority or his or her nominee.
Regionally, in South Africa there have regulation of interception of communications and provision of communication-related information act 70 of 2002, which was amended as Electronic Communications Act 36 of 2005, Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-related Information Amendment Act 48 of 2008
The legislation is meant To regulate the interception of certain communications, the monitoring of certain signals and radio frequency spectrums and the provision of certain communication-related information; to regulate the making of applications for, and the issuing of, directions authorizing the interception of communications and the provision of communication-related information under certain circumstances.
It also prohibits the provision of telecommunication services, which do not have the capability to be intercepted.
On common crimes under the South African cyber bill, the it speaks of the Prohibition on dissemination of data message which advocates, promotes or incites hate, discrimination or violence 17. (1) Any person who unlawfully and intentionally— (a) makes available, broadcasts or distributes; (b) causes to be made available, broadcast or distributed; or (c) assists in making available, broadcasts or distributes, through a computer network or an electronic communications network, to a specific person or the general public, a data message which advocates, promotes or incites hate, discrimination or violence against a person or a group of persons, is guilty of an offence.
However in the interests of South African citizens privacy, The Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-related Information Act prohibits the interception of communication for any other purposes.
The Electronic Communications and Transactions Act ensures protection of personal Information obtained via electronic transactions and requires express written permission of the data subject to process information.
The forty-one nation Council of Europe (“COE”) drafted the Cybercrime Convention72 after four years and twenty-seven drafts.73 It was adopted by the Committee of Ministers during the Committee’s 109th Session on November 8, 2001.74 The Convention was opened for signature in Budapest, on November 23, 2001.75 Thirty-five countries have signed the treaty, with Albania and Croatia having ratified it as well.
The COE’s Convention on Cybercrime is important international legislation because it binds countries in the same way as a treaty. “An international convention, or treaty, is a legal agreement between governments that spells out a code of conduct.”79 Once a large number of states have ratified a treaty, then it becomes acceptable to treat it as general law.80 Treaties are the only machinery that exist for adapting international law to new conditions and strengthening the force of a rule of law between states
Both the then Clinton and Bush Administrations worked closely with the Council of Europe on the Convention. U.S. officials believe that it “removes or minimizes the many procedural and jurisdictional obstacles that can delay or endanger international investigations and prosecutions of computer-related crimes.
The Bush Administration was pleased with the Convention’s data preservation approach, which requires the storage of specified data — relevant to a particular criminal investigation and already in a service provider’s possession — for a limited period of time. It views this provision, currently lacking in many national laws, as key to improving the counter-terrorist capabilities of law enforcement officials worldwide