20 April 2014

Zambia Govt to Draft Internet Law to Control 'Gossip' in Online Media

The internet has become permeated many areas of our lives. And now in a bid to monitor what goes in and out of their countries through this entity; many governments are coming up with laws to monitor what is going on with the internet content in their areas.

The latest is a law set to be drafted in Zambia that seeks to control "gossiping" in the country's online media.

This was reported recently by Global Voices Advocacy, a project of Global Voices Online that seeks to build a global anti-censorship network of bloggers and online activists dedicated to protecting freedom of expression online.

"The Zambian government is drafting a law intended to address online media and tackle internet abuse and cybercrime" said Information and Broadcasting Permanent Secretary Bert Mushala while on a tour of media houses in the in the Copperbelt Province, about 400 km north of the capital, Lusaka. The PS made the announcement while in the company of Information Minister Dr Joseph Katema.

Joseph Katema, Information and Broadcasting minister, on his apart said: "It's the intention of the PF government to broaden the information base to reach out to the public. Government is cognisant of the information gap, that is why we are putting policies in place that support media growth."

But Musahala, the PS in the ministry spoke about involving the media with regards to finding a solution to what was considered a problem by the government.

"There is a questionnaire that is being distributed, you will all be given to fill in before you are invited for the big indaba [national conference]," he told journalists. "We really have to address this situation."

Global Voices Advocacy goes on to further state that. "The statement from the two government officials does not come as a surprise to Zambian media observers. Since the Patriotic Front (PF) took office in 2011, there have been attempts to muzzle citizen media website such as the Zambian Watchdog and Zambia Reports." It continues by saying, "both sites have been blocked within the country on multiple occasions, and authorities have openly expressed ire towards the Watchdog. A recent article on Zambia Reports announced that the government had unblocked the two websites, allegedly due to pressure from international bodies and co-operating partners."

It is not clear how the pressure affected the government's decision, though, an anonymous source told Zambia Reports, "The warning from our international partners has been very strong so the authorities are trying to observe what will happen by unlocking the websites."

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