According to the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Energy Mutodi said that the Cybercrime and Cyber Security Bill will deal with cybercrimes when it becomes an Act. He was responding to concerns raised by Chief Charumbira

We have fake Twitter and WhatsApp accounts . . . some of them have been used by criminals who use the accounts to defraud unsuspecting members of the public. We are in the process of coming up with a Cyber Security Bill which concentrates on this.

The Bill will also address some behaviour that seeks to infringe on the rights of other people such spreading of nude pictures or any information that will tarnish a person’s image.

Hon Mutodi, however, pointed out that there will be limits to what the bill can achieve given that people have a right to freedom of speech under the constitution. Chief Charumbira was angry as an individual created an account under his name on Twitter.

Will the bill achieve anything

While the bill will criminalise “abuse of social media” its effect will be likely limited. “Fake” accounts are probably illegal under many laws that already exist and yet these laws have failed to curb their creation. This is because of certain problems:

  • These accounts are on platforms outside Zimbabwe. These mainly US entities customarily ignore warrants from the Zimbabwean government anyway
  • This is because they are under different jurisdiction from us. The US constitution is much more permissive when it comes to freedom of speech. In fact many of what we call fake accounts are treated as satire accounts
  • It’s relatively easy to mask your location on the internet. This can be done using VPN applications. You literary just have to tap a button and you will appear to be from Spain.
  • The Zimbabwean Police lack the skill and ability to investigate such crimes anyway.

So this new bill will be even less effective when it comes to combating cybercrime than the good minister imagines.

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