Zambia's Justice Ministry has confirmed that the country has not yet enacted cyber security laws because of concern by civil society organisations over the potential impact on freedom of speech and of expression.
Several organisations have reacted to the introduction of the Cyber Security and Cybercrime Bill, Data Protection Bill as well as the Electronic Commerce and Transaction Bill, and claimed these will be used to stifle freedoms.
The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zambia, Zambia Centre for Social Development (ZCSD), Bloggers of Zambia and the Southern Africa Centre for Constructive Resolution of Disputes (SACCORD) have accused authorities of failing to engage them in deliberation over the Bills prior to them being sent to parliament.
The CEO of Bloggers Zambia Richard Mulonga said the proposed internet regulation must protect internet security as well as personal data, unlike what is currently in place which the organisation perceives to be a threat to the digital rights of citizens.
"The failure to include stakeholders in the enactment of internet laws has perpetrated current questions and speculations that the government will gag people's digital rights especially freedom of expression in the country," said Mulonga.
The government will send the proposed legislation back for further deliberation, specifically clauses dealing with the preservation of freedom of communication (online), freedom of Association and Peaceful Assembly and the freedom of expression online.
Minister of Justice Given Lubinda said, "I'm concerned over the lack of cyber security laws in the country and as government we are concerned over emerging cyber crime in the country. Zambia is yet to learn from other countries' experiences - specifically on cyber laws and cyber security."