Zambia Okays Tough Cyber Law Sparking Fears Over Misuse

Zambia Okays Tough Cyber Law Sparking Fears Over Misuse

By Barron’s Writer |

Zambian President Edgar Lungu on Friday said he had signed into law a bill criminalising cyber abuse which critics alleged could be misused to stifle dissent ahead of upcoming elections.

Lungu signed the bill on Tuesday, his office said, adding that the president hoped it would “bring sanity in the way the internet is used in Zambia”.

“This is purely to protect citizens from abuse by people who feel they can or say anything that they want using the veil of cyberspace,” Lungu said.

The law, which allows checks on private computers for “unlawful activity”, was signed two weeks after parliament approved it.

 Offenders will be fined or can be served jail terms of up to five years.

Bloggers of Zambia executive director Richard Mulonga said the move “was not good for democracy”.

“It’s a shame…(the law) will patrol and police social media users particularly that we are heading towards elections,” in August, he told AFP.

Mulonga said he feared online media journalists would be hit the hardest.

Struggling with mounting debt and the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, Lungu has been scrambling to widen public support ahead of the August 12 presidential and parliamentary polls.

In power since 2015, Lungu faces mounting complaints that he is cracking down on his critics.

This article was published by the BARRON’S on March 26, 2021.

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