Zambia: Free Speech? Zambia's New Internet Law Fails Basic Human Rights Scrutiny

analysis

On 23 March 2021, Zambian President Edgar Lungu signed the Cyber Security and Cyber Crimes Bill into law. Its purported aim is to protect people from various forms of online abuse - but if what we have seen in other countries with such laws is anything to go by, it could also allow for blanket internet shutdowns and suppression of free speech, and is very much susceptible to abuse of power.

In a statement announcing his decision, the president said that he "hoped that the law would bring sanity in the way that the internet is used in Zambia". He further stated that this piece of legislation "... is purely to protect citizens from abuse by people who feel they can do or say whatever they want using the veil of cyberspace. This law is aimed at protecting all Zambians, including those who are against it."

Protecting people from abuse is laudable and at first glance this law has safeguards aimed at protecting children from predators, people who may suffer blackmail and extortion, and those who could lose their money through identity theft through the internet. It also aims to protect people who are harassed and bullied, among other issues....

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