Reverend Reuben Samboh says Zambia needs a law that empowers law enforcement to protect the cyber space but it should be restricted to hackers of systems, intellectual property thieves, international crime syndicates and cyber bullying.
The MMD vice-president for politics noted that there is a very thin line between using such law to fight crime and intruding upon the rights of individuals.
“The option we have is to develop another piece of law that lists all the crimes that would be cited under cyber-crimes or indeed that can be excluded from the same. If we follow the application of the public order Act (POA) for instance, then we have reason to worry,” Rev Samboh said. “This cyber security law is bittersweet.”
He noted that the Zambia Police fail to interpret the POA even when there is the famous Mulundika ruling to help them.
Rev Samboh further noted that the police change the application depending on the week of the day or the tone of voice of the political masters.
“In the name of the POA, police have killed people, they have brutalised citizens and so on. Against this background, there is little hope of how this law will be applied,” he said. “Recently, we have seen police move swiftly to arrest and detain individuals who have no political connections, for circulating sexual images of themselves while at the same time, offering long explanations as to why they will not even look in the direction of politically connected individuals who have done the very same thing.”
He said the law could very easily be the licence for all kinds of abuses for those who are charged with its enforcement.
Rev Samboh said it just seems odd that at a time that the world is retreating or advancing into the use of the internet as the means for livelihood, “then boom, comes a law that criminalises the very platform for existence in the new normal”.
“Our history as a nation does not help us very much when it comes to fair or reasonable application of well-intended laws and that is where the misgivings are for some of us,” he said. “We have a long way to go in remaining objective in the face of a vulnerable law. We still have a long way to go in refusing to rape laws for our advantage once we stand to benefit. The issue is not whether the law is good or bad, the issue is our socialisation.”
He said Zambia has not yet ascended to the place of self-government whereby it can restrain itself before handling laws equitably.