On 20th November,2019 Bloggers of Zambia held a one-day consultative meeting on internet laws and taxes and their potential impact on internet rights and freedoms. This meeting was aimed at sharing experiences, lessons, opinions, ideas and to contribute to Zambiaâ€™s leading advocacy campaign for digital rights, #OpenSPaceZM. The meeting was part of the interventions being implemented on a project titled, â€œRe-Opening the spaceâ€. Which is an online and offline advocacy campaign focused on the proposed internet regulation in Zambia and how they affect the democratic space. Participants for the meeting where drawn from local civil society organisations, participation from Kenya and Zimbabwe, representing east and Southern Africa regions. The meetings focus was as follows:
- OpenSpaceZM Online and offline Campaign on internet laws in Zambia
- Legal Analysis and Opinion of the SADC Model Law on Cybercrimes and Cyber Security
- Legal opinion on the Zambia Cybercrimes and Cyber Security Bill- 2017
- Â Legal battle and push-back against the Kenya Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act 2018
- Panel discussion – Internet laws and taxes and their potential impact on internet rights and freedoms
- What kind of internet laws and regulations do we want in Zambia?
2.0 OBJECTIVE OF THE WORKSHOP
To discuss and share experiences lessons, opinions, ideas on internet laws and taxes and their potential impact on internet rights and freedoms in Zambia while drawing experiences and best practices from other African countries to contribute to Zambiaâ€™s leading advocacy campaign for digital rights, #OpenSPaceZM.
3.0 PRESENTATIONS OF THE WORKSHOPS
Below are brief descriptions of what was covered in the presentations during the workshop:
3.1 OpenSpaceZM Online and offline Campaign on internet laws in Zambia.
This presentation focused on highlighting what the OpenSpaceZM campaign is, it was discussed that the OpenSpaceZM is an online and offline campaign for digital rights adhere to basic human. It aims at advocating for internet legislation that will allow free access and use of the internet as opposed to some sections of the proposed cybercrimes and cyber security bill that aims at restricting the use of internet in Zambia.The OpenSpaceZM is an initiative followed an announcement by the Zambian government in late 2017 to enact several cyber laws which intended at curbing the abuse of the internet, particularly, social media platforms.
3.2 Legal Analysis and Opinion of the SADC Model Law on Cybercrimes and Cyber Security.
This presentation basically highlighted the sections of the SADC Model law on cybercrimes which most African countries including Zambia have used it as a model law when drafting their laws on cybercrimes and cyber security. This discussion had practical example to highlight how this law has influenced the drafting and passing of law that does not reflect the peoples will.
3.3 Legal opinion on the Zambia Cybercrimes and Cyber Security Bill- 2017
This presentation gave an analysis of the cybercrimes and cyber security bill and its tents. In discussing it was also mentioned that the bill has many areas of concern and lamping the bill together as one would be problematic. It was also discussed that the bill does not address other issues like that of data protection which many states have used to seize equipment from activists for data harvesting. Therefore, there is need for civil society to look at the bill and identify areas of concern so as to inform the advocacy strategy that will address all concerns if the bill.
3.4 Legal battle and push-back against the Kenya Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act 2018.
This presentation brought practical experiences from the bloggers association of Kenya with reference to issues of litigation regards on illegalities on the use of the internet, digital rights and freedom of expression by the state. In discussing it was noted that journalists face similar problem even here in Zambia. However, in the case of Kenya the judiciary has been very reliable and objective in how it has managed cases to deal with abuse of the internet and digital rights.
3.5 Panel discussion – Internet laws and taxes and their potential impact on internet rights and freedoms
This panel discussion look at the potentials impact tax has on internet rights and freedoms. It was discussed that tax on internet will make it difficult to access for citizens who can hardly afford a data bundle to be able to be on-line due to the high prices of data. It was further emphasized that tax on social media will hinder access to information for citizens hence being un able to contribute effectively toward the governance of their country. However, one discussant stated that if the government outlines clearly how the tax will be used maybe citizens will welcome the move and comply. It was discussed that certain laws proposed by the government will promote increased surveillance, data harvesting and physical arrests from law enforcement agents.
3.6 What kind of internet laws and regulations do we want in Zambia
This presentation focused on getting people views on what kind of law do they desire.
Zambia in regards to freedom and access to information for all.
4.0 KEY RESULTS OF THE ACTIVITY.
- The workshops provided an educational and learning platform and insight to share experience on net laws in Zambia and how best can different actors contribute to the OpenSpaceZM campaign for digital rights while learning from best practices from otherÂ Â other countries in Africa.
- The workshop provided an opportunity for networking with colleagues from civil society and the media sharing how best internet laws in Zambia can represent the people
- Participants collectively shared ideas and strategies on how best to advocate for the removal of certain tents of the law that are not progressive.
5.0 LESSONS LEARNT
- There is need for expanding the participants lists unlike drawing participants from the form the same organization as possible participants
- It was also recommended that needs utilize there is need to come up with deliberate programs and platforms to sensitize and engage parliamentarians, policy makers, ministry of communication, so as to be able to table before them some of the issue of concern imbedded in the proposed bill.
Not all invited participants attended the meeting n