Time to curtail social media abuse

Tue, 06 Feb 2018 07:25:41 +0000

PLANS by Government to propose three bills to Parliament to curtail social media abuse and protect innocent citizens is a step in the right direction.

The proposal could not have come at a better time than now when social media abuse had become so rampant that even the highest office in the land – State House – has not been spared from evil.

Government, according to Minister of Transport and Communication Brian Mushimba, has no intention of banning social media but only wants to protect innocent citizens from cybercrimes through the bills.

The three, the Cyber Security and Cyber-crimes Bill, the Data Protection and the E-Commence Bill, will help control criminal activities such as fraud, defamation and duplicating of people’s Facebook profile pages, bullying and fake news.

In the recent past, so many innocent citizens, including government ministers, have fallen victim to cyber criminals who have been committing these crimes with impunity all in the name of freedom of expression

State House – through the President’s special assistant for press and public relations Amos Chanda – one of the victims, was recently compelled to write to the Inspector General of Police, Kakoma Kanganja, asking them to probe the incessant fake news mooted and circulated on social media platforms by the criminals purported to be from the highest office in the country.

We agree with the government’s plans over the proposed bills especially that social media abuse had undoubtedly reached a crescendo in Zambia.

The internet is without doubt a powerful tool for communication, which if used aptly helps to enhance development.

However, attacking and bullying innocent people as well as posting fake news with a view to mislead citizens and cause mayhem in the country is retrogressive.

Said Mr Mushimba:  “So let me make it clear, we are not banning social media. What we are saying is that, as government we have the responsibility to protect our citizens so that they are not abused. So that they are not taken advantage of.”

We fully concur with the minister’s prudent efforts to tackle this challenge which if left unchecked has the capacity to plunge the country into serious and regrettable turmoil.

While cybercrime has increasingly become a global problem, the Zambian government, like others are doing, is duty-bound to protect its citizens and the environment from the dangers of this scourge.

In fact elsewhere in some parts of the world, the internet is outlawed, yet despite the rampant, worrisome abuse, the government has no plans to ban this powerful communication tool.

It is our belief that once passed, the bills accord the Zambia Information and Communication Technology Authority (ZICTA) and other security wings more clout to effectively fight cybercrimes dogging the country.

While we are aware that ZICTA has been trying its best to clampdown on unscrupulous individuals behind internet crimes, the authority and other security wings have been unable to achieve the desired results because of the inadequate laws.

It is our humble appeal to the citizenry to refrain from using this vital treasure of information to commit crimes. Instead people should use it for foster development.

Sadly, some politicians have also resorted to abusing the web too to launch unnecessary attacks and insults to those in power under the guise of freedom of speech.

Even freedom of speech demands a certain level of morality, integrity and responsibility. If politicians, who are deemed as leaders in society are the ones abusing social media, what example are they setting to the youth – the supposedly future leaders of this country?

With the three proposed bills, the battle against cybercrime will certainly be intensified. The fight is on.

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