MINISTRY of Information and Broadcasting Services permanent secretary Amos Malupenga says his ministry is happy that the Cyber Security and Cyber Crimes Bill No.2 of 2021 has been introduced, advising citizens to be happy because in some jurisdictions, surveillance is done secretly.

And Bank of Zambia governor Christopher Mvunga has advised that the Cyber Security and Cyber Crimes Bill No.2 of 2021 should be crafted in a way that it will not clash with the provisions of the Bank of Zambia Act and the Banking and Financial Services Act.

Speaking when he made a submission to the joint Committee on Media Information & Communication Technology and Committee on National Security and Foreign Affairs, Malupenga said only those who have ulterior motives should be worried about the Bill.

“In fact, we should be happy because we have been behind. In some jurisdictions Honourable Chair, and being a security man, you even know that there are a lot of cameras that are mounted in public places which are hidden, they are not even exposed to the public. Why? They want to ensure that security of the people is guaranteed. Here, the government is even being very transparent by informing the citizens that we have put cameras, so when you want to undertake certain issues, be mindful that, like when Honourable said, that Big Brother is watching. So should you misbehave, we will catch you and that is like they say to be forewarned is to be forearmed so if you want to engage in mischief, just that warning is going to discourage you and we will all be protected. Only those who have ulterior motives or something to the contrary will be concerned or worried and I want to believe that we have sufficient laws to take care of and to protect our privacy and all those concerns that the other stakeholders are raising,” he said.

“Now, coming to the issue that has been raised, me the way I am looking at it when we talk about cyber security and cyber crimes, we are trying to relate it to the way we live physically. We have now moved or we are moving both physically and also on cyber space. Now, where we live physically here, within the confines of our country, we have the laws that are governing us so if I come and enter your premises without your knowledge and authority, I am trespassing and there is a law that guards against that.”

Malupenga observed that the emergence of digital technologies had seen widespread abuse through the spread of falsehoods, hate speech and disinformation which had the potential to destabilise the country.

“With the emergence digital technologies, Zambia has seen a proliferation of online media platforms which has transformed the way people receive and share information. This has seen ordinary citizens participate in mass dissemination of information, videos and pictures. This emergence has, however, also been subject to widespread abuse through the spread of falsehoods hate speech and disinformation which has the potential to destabilise the country. It is because of this that our Ministry which is responsible for broadcasting and information dissemination fully supports the enactment of the Cybercrime and Cyber security Bill as it will bring sanity to online media platforms,” said Malupenga.

“In this regard the Ministry already has put in place the Government Communication Strategy and the Media Development Policy that provide guidance to information flow. Therefore, the Bill will help gauze against illegal securing, obtaining and sourcing of critical information electronically as cited at Part v 17…Further, the Cybersecurity and Cybercrime Act will enhance the provisions of the Zambia Media Council (ZAMEC) Bill, which aims to promote professionalism in the media industry. The Ministry is currently in the process of repealing and replacing the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) Act to include online Broadcasting and the aspect of digital migration which will, to a great extent, operate with the use of ICT. Service providers under the IBA Act shall operate within the legislation provided at Section 39(1) and 40 (1).”

And appearing before the same committee, Mvunga also welcomed the introduction of the Bill but advised that it should not come into conflict with the already existing regulatory framework.

“Chair, we need to be mindful that Bank of Zambia is governed under the Bank of Zambia Act and we have got the Banking and Financial Services Act. The financial services providers have to comply with this Act so we should ensure that there is consistency between what we are proposing that it doesn’t come into conflict with our regulatory mandate because we could find ourselves in a situation where we disagree with what you want to do because it’s conflicting with our laws. So that’s something that we need to be careful about,” he said.

“Invariably, issues of cyber security call for sometimes difficult balance between the public good or the safety and security of citizens in an increasingly digital era against the importance of protecting or safeguarding personal liberty. The Bank of Zambia welcomes the introduction if the Cyber Security and Cybercrimes Bill No.2 of 2021. The Bank not Zambia position is that this bill adds to the efforts already being implemented by the Bank of Zambia in maintaining financial system stability. The Bank of Zambia acknowledges that successful implementation of this Bill will require enhanced collaboration among industry regulators.”

And in response to Chifubu PF member of parliament Frank Ngambi who wanted to know how banks with centralised banking systems are operating and how they are being handled in other jurisdictions, Mvunga said; “This is something that we need to think through very carefully with regard to international banks. If banks by nature, I happened to be the head of Africa for Standard Chartered Bank and I was looking after 29 countries, our systems resided in India. Now the reason why you do that is to capture the synergies in terms of development, in terms of expert resources, so that you service all the 29 countries from there. Now, that’s a practical thing that we need to think through very carefully and what we are saying is that I think as we finalise this or operationalize it, you need to work closely with us as a regulator so that we provide practical input on how to operationalize this. To what extent do you want information to reside in Zambia and to what extent are we going to allow flexibility for the information to force the banks bring all their servers back into Zambia, I don’t think it’s the right decision to make. So there should be some of flexibility which will allow for disclosure if you need information for superintending over their information, the data they are keeping.”