Masvingo rejects proposed Cyber bill


MASVINGO –Scores of Masvingo residents have rejected the proposed Cyber Security and Data Protection Bill calling it a sham that should be scraped as it will be misused to monitor and crackdown on government’s opponents, civil society and journalists alike.

The residents said the bill gives too much power to POTRAZ by making it the Cyber Security Centre and Data protection authority as it is under State influence and answers to a cabinet minister.

They also said the bill should also have a provision to protect whistleblowers.

The bill was hugely criticized during a public hearing jointly held by the parliamentary portfolio committees on Media, Information and Broadcasting Services, ICT and Currier, and the Senate’s Peace and Security committee at Mucheke Hall on Monday.

The hearing was chaired by Mhangura MP Precious Chinhamo Masango.

Officials from Potraz and Ministry of Information also attended the consultation.

“The bill is a sham which will be used to crack down on civic society, Government’s opposition and journalists. These groups will be kept under close scrutiny because POTRAZ is a parastatal which answers to a minister. The Government of the day will have no limits in violating personal data for its own use,” said one speaker.

“Whistleblowers are important in society. We need these people to be protected from their superiors at the workplace and in society. Those in power are bound to retaliate on these people. They can be dismissed from work, have their families attacked or their houses burnt down for doing society a favor by exposing corruption,” said another speaker.

Masango said that all 16 national languages should be used on bill consultations to include views from everyone.

Few participants however, said Government does not have the resources or financial muscle to establish an independent board to act as the data collection authority and cyber security centre and Potraz should therefore become the centre.

They also said the bill should be passed to curb the posting of indecent material as accident victims’ pictures and false information.

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