Journalists should read, understand the data protection Act – Mulonga

BLOGGERS of Zambia chief executive officer Richard Mulonga says journalists and civil society organisations should monitor the implementation of the data protection Act.

During an online training, Mulonga said journalists should read and understand the data protection Act.

“In Zambia sometimes, implementation or enforcement of these laws is done at the convenience of the police or the government because for example someone who is critical has challenged them so they look for a law and then descend on them,” he said.

Mulonga said journalists should monitor the implementation of the law to check for excesses and abuses.

And legal officer at the Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa, Edrine Wanyama said there were positives and negatives that emerge from the data protection Act.

Wanyama said the enactment of the data protection Act was good because it is a sign of the government’s commitment to data protection.

“From the Act we have some positives that emerge as well as negatives that emerge from that particular law. The positive is that all the laws of Zambia are based on the principles and rules related to data processing. This is quite good, it reflects the acceptable standards of data protection and privacy,” he said.

Wanyama said as regards to processing of personal data, the law was specific that when data controllers are doing data processing, they should ensure that the processing does not override the interest or fundamental freedoms of the data subject.

“In other ways, if the data controller or processor is processing your data, they should weigh and look at your fundamental freedoms. If processing will interfere with your fundamental rights and freedoms then it should not go ahead,” he said.

Wanyama said the data protection Act puts in place checks and balances.

He said the Act also exempts journalistic work from works that were prohibited from access especially when it comes to publications of information that relates to the privacy of the individual.

According to CIPESA’s analysis of Zambia’s cyber security the law, while cyber security is critical in the highly evolving technological era, it is important that a rights-based approach is employed in the development of policies and laws to ensure the adopted laws and policies do not wantonly limit individual rights and freedoms.

CIPESA stated that the cyber security and cybercrimes Act, in its current state offers some solutions to emerging challenges in the digital space but has wide negative impacts on the protection, promotion and enjoyment of digital rights and freedoms.

The online training attracted journalists from all the 10 provinces.

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