Child porn, spam & everything illegal under Zimbabwe’s draft Cybercrime Bill

   

Parliament of Zimbabwe

I guess everyone with the slightest bit of appreciation of technology will agree that our country’s laws haven’t caught up with the changes that have been happening in the tech space.

A lot of cases that we’ve seen being handled in court rely on laws that aren’t specific enough to identify when a crime has been committed and in some instances downplay the potential damage that a perpetrator might have caused.

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To be fair, the rate at which technology is used in every other field essentially means that legislation won’t be able to fully catch up. it is commendable, however if the law does at least try to do that.

We recently managed to look through the draft Computer Crime and Cybercrime Bill that is set for final deliberations in the Parliament of Zimbabwe. It’s part of a raft of proposed legislation that includes the ICT Policy, e-Transactions bill, Data Protection Bill and Interception of Communications Bill which are set for parliamentary deliberation.

Though it’s still a draft and will likely go through some changes before it passes through the House and goes for Presidential assent, there were some notable aspects in the draft which indicate an approach to cybercrime that is a lot more aware of changes in technology.

What constitutes a cybercrime?

One major leap from previous legislation has been the acknowledgement of certain computer aided offences that have been canvassed under other offences in the Criminal Law Act of Zimbabwe.

Some offences that have been highlighted specifically include:

  • Pornography – possessing, distributing, selling, lending or hiring it out
  • Child porn -this includes acquiring producing, distributing, possessing or offering it through a computer system as well as gaining access to it through ICT
  • Handling racist or xenophobic material
  • the deliberate introduction of a virus into a system
  • The unauthorised use or possession of credit or debit cards
  • Spam – “the transmission of multiple electronic mail messages from or through a computer system”
  • The illegal access to or use of a computer, or the illegal interception of information,
  • illegal data interference – this extends to illegally deleting or altering data or obstructing its lawful use, as well as fraudulently creating or manipulating data through a computer system. It also covers downloading and creating software used to alter or destroy data
  • Data espionage – this covers accessing of data that is under special authority
  • Illegal system interference through illegal devices
  • Computer related forgery and fraud
  • The violation of  any intellectual property rights protected under any law or treaty applicable to intellectual property rights in Zimbabwe

All these offences are yet to have specified penalties and sentences, though imprisonment and forfeiture of systems used in a crime are highlighted.

Assuming that this bill becomes law, it creates a very different landscape regarding the acknowledgement of IT in criminal procedures in Zimbabwe. From the looks of the specific nature of the offences it should also set into motion the action around IT forensic in Zimbabwean law enforcement.

It also brings into play the issue of skills development for every other person in law enforcement and the adoption of systems that will play a part in the delivery of justice.

These considerations will invariably create opportunities for people in ICT that are able to create solutions or offer support to the Zimbabwean legal system.


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