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Mnangagwa's govt target internet users

by Staff reporter
14 Jul 2019 at 11:27hrs | Views
Government is set to put in place social media abuse laws amid revelations that there is an upsurge in internet abuse and the proliferation of illegal websites.

This comes on the back of a rise in mobile broadband penetration, which has powered cybercrime and the establishment of websites that promote online prostitution as well as circulation of explicit content.

Information Communication Technology and Courier Services Minister Kazembe Kazembe said his ministry is currently working on the Cyber Crime and Cyber Security Bill (2019). The bill seeks to address social media abuse, which includes the proliferation of websites that promote online prostitution.

"Part IV of the bill provides for offences relating to electronic communications and materials such as transmitting of messages that may cause harm. We are looking at messages that may be detrimental to peace and in light of websites that promote online prostitution, we are saying such websites are a threat to the society," said Minister Kazembe.

After enactment into law, this act will regulate social media usage, curb social media abuse, cyber bullying and deliberate transmission of false data.

Minister Kazembe said dating websites are illegal, adding that the bill will control such websites under Part IX, which provides for judicial control of information stored in websites.

Currently, the Government is setting up a Computer Incidence Response Team (CIRT), which will assist in monitoring and control of illegal content. The bill also stipulates that offending service providers will be prosecuted under the criminal code.

"With access to ICTs in schools, dating websites can also be harmful to school children because they have access to assorted content. The bill also provides child online protection," he added.

Through the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz), the Government has put together a set of guidelines — "The Child Online Protection Guidelines for Children" as an awareness tool.  "The guidelines are meant to make children aware of the potentially negative aspects of online information and services. They also make the children understand that they are protected against the various problems they may encounter online," said Minister Kazembe.

South Africa recently banned illegal websites that fuel online prostitution. With Zimbabwe's more technologically advanced neighbour having set this precedence, Minister Kazembe said Government will strive to follow best practices by exploring the South African example.

"Social media abuse has become a real cause for concern, therefore we are out in full force to take action and fight this menace," he said.

Under Potraz's Consumer Protection Guidelines section16.1, service providers are expected to protect consumers.

"Service Provider(s) are expected to protect consumers from unwanted or illegal electronic solicitations, including live voice solicitations, artificial pre-recorded, voice advertisements, electronic mail, electronic wireless messages (e.g. SMS, MMS) and facsimile messages," reads part of the guidelines.

According to their website, Potraz revealed that there is an increase in the number of online abusers — from offensive websites, online bullying and sending of unwanted photos.

"The bottom line is that everyone should know it is impossible to be 100 percent protected unless you consider complete internet abstinence as a solution. However if we implement safer internet practices, we can all play our little part and make the internet safer," reads part of an article written by Pardon Gatsi and published on the Potraz website.

In 2015, the late Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku made a landmark ruling, barring the Zimbabwe Republic Police from arresting loitering prostitutes in the absence of customers who can confirm that they were offered the service for a fee.

Source - sundaymail