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Misa takes cyber war to Mnangagwa

by Staff reporter
03 Dec 2021 at 18:22hrs | Views
THE Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Zimbabwe has written to President Emmerson Mnangagwa advising him not to pass the Cybersecurity and Data Protection Bill into law, saying the proposed legislation infringes on a range of rights.

In its letter to Mnangagwa, Misa said if passed, the law would open the floodgates into the invasion of privacy. Misa said Mnangagwa must consider this before signing the Cybersecurity Bill into law.

The Bill has passed both the lower and upper houses and is now awaiting the President's signature.

"We have written to the President to say you must rethink signing the Bill into law especially with the key concerns," said Misa Zimbabwe director Tabani Moyo.

He also raised concerns in the manner in which the Bill was passed and tabled before the President.

It is now over two months after the Bill was sent to the President against the 21 days window provided at law to either reject or pass laws. The deputy chairperson of the Parliamentary portfolio committee on Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services, Ability Gandawa on October 19 confirmed during a cybersecurity webinar that the Bill would soon be signed into law.

But Misa Zimbabwe advised at the time against passing the Bill in its current form.

Moyo argued that the Cybersecurity Bill was taking Zimbabwe back to the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa) era.

Aippa had three legs, which encompassed access to information, media regulation and regulation of the right to privacy.

Its omnibus nature was cited as problematic, which saw legal experts and media advocacy groups agreeing to unbundle it.

This led to the enactment of the Freedom of Information Act in 2020, the Zimbabwe Media Commission Act (2021) and establishment of the Cybersecurity and Data Protection Bill.

"This one (Cybersecurity and Data Protection Bill) is also taking the omnibus approach of bringing three complex issues under one Bill (including) cybersecurity regulation and data protection. It seems we did not take any lessons from Aippa and presented the Bill in that monologue state," said Moyo.

UK-based internet governance expert Kuda Hove concurred with Misa Zimbabwe's position over the impending law.

"The omnibus approach also failed when we had Aippa. The law was used to restrict free expression and regulate the media but the protection of privacy was totally ignored," Hove told the Zimbabwe Independent this week.

"In the same way, this law will also end up prioritising cyber security over privacy," he said.

Misa Zimbabwe indicated that the establishment of the Cybersecurity Centre and Data Protection Authority under the Postal and Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (Potraz) further compromised online users' rights to privacy.

"It lumps in Potraz, Cybersecurity Centre and Data Protection Authority (together), which is a dangerous marriage that can lead to the compromise of our right to privacy. We all know what a Cybersecurity Centre is, that's an arm of the State, which should be separated from a Data Authority or Potraz, which has unfettered access to our information through control of mobile operators and internet networks," stated Moyo.

Source - The Zimbabwe Independent
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