When you look at the bills that this government is desperate to legislate, it is those laws which are commonly used by countries run by dictators. They are not laws that promote democracy and freedom of speech, it is laws which seek to justify their oppressive means of governing the people.
Take for instance the Cyber Security Bill which President Edgar Lungu is pushing for enactment, we are concerned that this is a law that will be used to target individual members of the opposition and those who criticize the Head of State and his government. There is nothing attractive in this bill because, like we said, the problems it seeks to solve are already being solved by other existing laws.
Now, we want our people to take particular interest in the contents of this bill and focus on what it says about intercepting private communications. In our view, this is where the future of Zambia’s democracy lies. This Bill seeks to give authority to government officers to not only intercept conversations, but to also plant intercepting devices at people’s properties and homes, as long as some motivated government officer believes that the person whose communication is being intercepted is likely to cause harm to another person.
At this stage we are not sure if the bill which the President is pushing for enactment has been changed in any way, but we would like to share excerpts from Part V of the Cybercrimes and Cyber Security Draft Bill, which talks about interception of communication. The rest of the Draft Bill has been shared on our website so that those who are interested can download and read for themselves.
PART V INTERCEPTION OF COMMUNICATIONS
34. (1) There is established the Central Monitoring and Coordination Centre. (2) The Central Monitoring and Coordination Centre is the sole facility through which authorised interceptions in terms of this Act shall be effected and all the intercepted communication and call-related information of any particular interception target forwarded. (3) The Central Monitoring and Coordination Centre shall be managed, controlled and operated by the department responsible for Government communications in liaison with the Agency.
35. (1) Subject to subsection (2), a law enforcement officer may, where the law enforcement officer has reasonable grounds to believe that an offence has been committed, is likely to be committed or is being committed and for the purpose of obtaining evidence of the commission of an offence under this Act, apply, ex parte, to a judge of the High Court, for an interception of communications order. (2) A law enforcement officer shall, before making an application under subsection (1), obtain the prior written consent of the Attorney-General. (3) A judge to whom an application is made under subsection (1) may make an order – (a) requiring a service provider to intercept and retain a specified communication or communications of a specified description received or transmitted, or about to be received or transmitted by that service provider; (b) authorising the law enforcement officer to enter any premises and to install on such premises any device for the interception and retention of a specified communication or communications of a specified description and to remove and retain such device; (c) requiring any person to furnish the law enforcement officer with such information facilities and assistance as the judge considers necessary for the purpose of the installation of the interception device; or (d) imposing the terms and conditions for the protection of the interests of the persons specified in the order or any third parties or to facilitate any investigation; if the judge is satisfied that the written consent of the Attorney-General has been obtained as required by subsection (2) and that there are reasonable grounds to believe that material information relating to— (i) the commission of an offence under this Act or any other law; or (ii) the whereabouts of the person suspected by the law enforcement officer to have committed the offence; is contained in that communication or communications of that description.
(4) Any information contained in a communication — (a) intercepted and retained pursuant to an order under subsection (3); (b) intercepted and retained in a foreign State in accordance with the law of that foreign State and certified by a judge of that foreign State to have been so intercepted and retained; or (c) Shall be admissible in proceedings for an offence under this Act, as evidence of the truth of its contents notwithstanding the fact that it contains hearsay. (5) An interception of communications order referred to in this section shall be valid for a period of three months and may, upon application by a law enforcement officer, be renewed for such period as the judge may determine…
36. (1) A law enforcement officer may, where the law enforcement officer has reasonable grounds to believe that- (a) a person who is a part to any communication- (i) has caused, or may cause, the infliction of bodily harm to another person; (ii) threatens, or has threatened, to cause the infliction of bodily harm to another person; (iii) threatens, or has threatened, to kill oneself or another person or to perform an act which would or may endanger that party’s own life or that of another person would or may cause the infliction of bodily harm to that party or another person; or (iv) has caused or may cause damage to property; (b) it is not reasonable or practical to make an application under section sixty-six for an interception of communications order because the delay to intercept a specified communication or communications would result in the actual infliction of bodily harm, the death of another person or damage to property; and (c) the sole purpose of the interception is to prevent bodily harm to, or loss of life of, any person or damage to property; intercept any communication and orally request a service provider to route duplicate signals of indirect communications specified in that request to the Monitoring Centre…
46. (1) A service provider shall ensure that the service provider- (a) uses electronic communications systems that are technically capable of supporting lawful interceptions in accordance with this Act; (b) installs hardware and software facilities and devices to enable the interception of communications when so required by a law enforcement officer or under a court order; (c) provides services that are capable of rendering real-time and full-time monitoring facilities for the interception of communications; (d) provides all call-related information in real-time or as soon as possible upon call termination; (e) provides one or more interfaces from which any intercepted communication shall be transmitted to the Monitoring Centre; (f) transmits intercepted communications to the Monitoring Centre through fixed or switched connections, as the case may be.
As we stated, this is the draft bill that we are quoting and if the President, his Cabinet and the Attorney General have made any changes to this bill, the onus is upon them to publish that bill so that the people of Zambia can see if that is how they want to be governed. For now, what we are saying is that, with the thousands of CCTV cameras which this regime has planted all over the country, we wonder how they will survive when they lose power and someone else takes charge of these facilities and laws that they are leaving in place.