New law will police social media

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By Albertina Nakale

WINDHOEK- The Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) has finalised the draft bill for the governance of social media.

The Electronic Transaction and Cyber Crimes Bill provides legal recourse to punish those posting insensitive content such as graphic images of GBV victims and those of a sexually explict nature. The victims of such postings could also seek recourse against those suspected of posting insensitive visuals or audios.

Speaking exclusively to New Era yesterday, the Acting Director of Information and Communication Technology, Elizabeth Kamutuezu, confirmed the ministry had finalised the Bill, adding that it was in its final stages of drafting at the Ministry of Justice.

It is anticipated the Bill will be tabled in parliament for consideration and approval before the end of the year.

There has been continuous posting of gruesome crime scene pictures on social networks that had the nation reeling in shock, especially pictures of the late Mirjam Tuyakula Nandjato, which ushered to the fore the question of control measures for discourse on social networks.  

Equally, residents of the Zambezi Region were shocked at the sexually explicit nature of an audio recording of a councillor making advances to a woman.

There is also a video clip in circulation that shows a promiscuous married woman having intercourse with her lover on a patch of grass reportedly in Zambezi.

The Swapo councillor in Katima Mulilo was caught unawares when his sexual advances to a local young woman was recorded and the audio file posted on social networks. 

He could be heard on Facebook pouring out his lust for the young woman to the extent of promising her he would take her to a lodge in Zambia where the two could have uninterrupted pleasure. 

These are some of the many cyber violations for which the culprits have gone unpunished.

At the time of Nandjato’s death, the police, the Legal Assistant Centre, the ombudsman, as well as the information ministry all reacted strongly to the manner in which the public handled the matter, with the police actually going as far as monitoring social network sites in an effort to catch those responsible for uploading the pictures. 

Adding insult to injury was the viral speed at which the news spread, ending up on the NBC language services even before the family was formally notified by the police about Nandjato’s death. 

Kamutuezu said the draft version was already completed last year July when a vast consultative meeting with stakeholders such as legal officers, ICT operators, academics and the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) took place.

The draft bill once enacted into law would also allow parties to apply for defamatory content to be removed from internet sites to prevent further publication.

Currently there is very little that law enforcement agencies can do to police social networks. 

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