DTA not happy with plans for Electronic Communication Bill

04 Aug 2015 13:50pm
WINDHOEK, 04 AUG (NAMPA) – The DTA of Namibia says some parts of the Electronic Communication and Cyber Crime Bill will prevent citizens from exercising their democratic rights.
Speaking at a media briefing here on Monday, DTA of Namibia acting Secretary-General, Elma Dienda said the party has noted that primary reason for the Bill, which is heading to the National Assembly for discussion, is to prevent citizens from criticising institutions with poor public service delivery records.
The Bill is aimed to regulate and control social media and social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
It also seeks to allow the victims of instances where insensitive content is posted recourse against those suspected of posting the insensitive visuals or audio.
Dienda said regulation is an essential part of governance and the maintenance of law and order in any society.
“What the party however finds alarming is that it appears that the primary reason being given to justify the introduction of the Bill is that politicians and senior ranking officials wish to prevent ordinary citizens from exercising their democratic right of rightly criticising institutions with poor public service delivery track records,” said Dienda.
She argued that if any ministry, parastatal or senior executive at the helm of such an institution performs their tasks and renders good service, then there would not be any need for criticism.
“The real problem is that ministers and ministries are effectively trying to introduce a law which seeks to render mute dissenting voices,” she stated.
The DTA Secretary-General noted that the rights to information and freedom of expression are critical, particularly the right to information, which enables people to exercise all other rights.
She noted that social media has the additional advantage of being able to disseminate information immediately without delay, as opposed to newspapers, which only go to press at certain times.
“There is constant talk that Namibia needs to move towards being a ‘knowledge-based’ society within the next few years and the DTA believes the ease of access to unfiltered information from a wide variety of people will be central in achieving this,” she said.
Dienda went on to say there are some individuals who use social media to make defamatory remarks about others, especially politicians.
“However, given that there are already laws which guard against this type of behaviour and one still has the option to institute legal proceedings where defamatory remarks are made against you, one questions why additional provisions need to be included in the Electronic Communication and Cyber Crime Bill that also deals with this issue,” she said.
On 21 July this year, Cabinet approved the start of the process of legislative review and improvement of the existing Bills relating to cyberspace regulation.
Cabinet further noted that the process of legislative development must be comprehensive yet tech-neutral to ensure that there is legal certainty and that the legislation sufficiently provides for technological progression.
Cabinet authorised the Namibian Government to establish divisions dedicated to cyber-crime such as a division in the Office of the Prosecutor-General, Ministry of Justice and a cyber-crime advisory unit in the Office of the Attorney-General.