Cy­ber Crime Bill to curb abuse of so­cial me­dia

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News -

CY­BER CRIME is one of the great­est threats fac­ing our coun­try, and has enor­mous im­pli­ca­tions for our na­tional security, eco­nomic pros­per­ity, and pub­lic safety. The range of threats and the chal­lenges they present for law en­force­ment ex­pand just as rapidly as tech­nol­ogy evolves”, reads a state­ment on the of­fi­cial site of the United States De­part­ment of Jus­tice.

Across the At­lantic Ocean in the United King­dom, the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment has in­vested nearly £2 bil­lion to cre­ate the coun­try’s first “cy­ber force” to com­bat on­line threats from states and ter­ror groups such as Is­lamic State. The An­gloSaxon axis against cy­ber ter­ror­ism is in­struc­tive and comes against a re­al­i­sa­tion that the in­ter­net has been used to foster ter­ror-re­lated ac­tiv­i­ties by as­sist­ing with the self-rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion process of in­di­vid­u­als.

This medium also al­lows in­for­ma­tion to be eas­ily dis­trib­uted to those seek­ing con­ver­sion to a par­tic­u­lar ide­ol­ogy. The ac­tiv­i­ties in­clude pro­mo­tion of ter­ror man­i­festos and ide­ol­ogy, at­tract­ing re­cruit­ment, psy­cho­log­i­cal war­fare, de­cep­tions, com­mu­ni­ca­tion and net­work­ing, fundrais­ing, and at­tacks on the net­works of security au­thor­i­ties. Ter­ror­ism re­searcher Maura Con­way once said: “Ev­ery ma­chine con­nected to the in­ter­net is po­ten­tially a print­ing press, a broad­cast­ing sta­tion or place of as­sem­bly”.

This is poignant in the wake of a threat to the Gov­ern­ment of Zim­babwe and the emer­gence of a new form of ter­ror­ism which re­lies on the abuse of so­cial me­dia to in­sti­gate vi­o­lence and fo­ment an up­ris­ing. It is com­mon cause that the in­ter­net is an un­par­al­leled me­dia suite and ter­ror­ists no longer have to have their mes­sages di­luted and edited by the me­dia. In­stead they can dis­sem­i­nate in­for­ma­tion of their choice to aid their causes.

In most cases, this is achieved by the ter­ror­ists fo­cus­ing on their griev­ances in or­der to jus­tify why they are re­sort­ing to ter­ror­ist ac­tiv­i­ties. The use of dis­in­for­ma­tion by ter­ror­ist groups is of­ten used to in­cite fear, panic and ha­tred by send­ing threats, air­ing videos of bru­tal ex­e­cu­tions, cre­at­ing psy­cho­log­i­cal at­tacks through the use of threats of cy­ber-ter­ror­ism. Dis­in­for­ma­tion has been used suc­cess­fully to in­cite vi­o­lence by cer­tain mil­i­tant groups.

It is thus ironic that the US, Bri­tain and their West­ern al­lies have borne the brunt of cy­bert­er­ror­ism and de­vel­oped pieces of leg­is­la­tion to deal with this new threat but are ac­tively in­volved in us­ing the same me­dia to spon­sor sub­ver­sive ac­tiv­i­ties in for­eign lands. In Zim­babwe, the em­bassies of the US, France and Bri­tain have been fin­gered in the mush­room­ing of shad­owy groups such as #This Flag and Ta­ja­muka/Se­si­jik­ile which are abus­ing so­cial me­dia plat­forms such as Twit­ter, WhatsApp and Face­book to whip up antiGov­ern­ment sen­ti­ment and ig­nite so­cial up­heaval.

The link be­tween th­ese groups and the in­tel­li­gence agen­cies of na­tions hos­tile to Zim­babwe is strong and it is not sur­pris­ing that one of the char­ac­ters at the fore­front of a bid to in­cite Zim­bab­weans to rise up against their Gov­ern­ment — Pas­tor Evan Mawarire – is now domi­ciled in the US where he has been granted asy­lum.

Is Zim­babwe not jus­ti­fied in craft­ing its own pieces of leg­is­la­tion to pro­tect its State and sovereignty in the wake of a gen­uine and ur­gent threat to its ex­is­tence? Clearly mes­sages of hate and in­cite­ment be­ing spewed daily by the likes of Mawarire, Prom­ise Mkhwananzi and their di­as­pora co­horts some of whom have been pos­i­tively iden­ti­fied by our security agen­cies are tan­ta­mount to ter­ror­ism and we can­not ex­pect the Gov­ern­ment to sit idly while the na­tion is un­der at­tack.

We stated above that dis­in­for­ma­tion has been used suc­cess­fully to in­cite vi­o­lence and the spo­radic acts of ban­ditry which oc­curred in Harare, Beit­bridge and Bu­l­awayo dur­ing protests called by th­ese sub­ver­sive groups were a re­sponse to dis­torted in­for­ma­tion de­lib­er­ately twisted to achieve anar­chy and may­hem.

Should the Gov­ern­ment fold its arms and watch as key in­fras­truc­ture is de­stroyed by drugged an­ar­chists be­ing used to ad­vance a lost cause. We think not. Peace­ful protests for a gen­uine griev­ance are per­mit­ted in Zim­babwe but spon­sored demon­stra­tions de­signed to cause civil dis­obe­di­ence and vi­o­lence can never be tol­er­ated.

We com­mend the po­lice and other security agen­cies for re­main­ing calm in the face of ex­treme provo­ca­tion by lumpen ele­ments dur­ing protests and urge them to re­sist at­tempts to ca­jole them to use force and ig­nite may­hem.

We also hope the Com­puter Crime and Cy­ber Crime Bill to be pre­sented in Par­lia­ment soon will go a long way in pro­tect­ing Zim­bab­weans from cy­ber ter­ror­ists. Gov­ern­ment on Tues­day warned Zim­bab­weans in and out­side the coun­try against abus­ing so­cial me­dia through cir­cu­lat­ing sub­ver­sive ma­te­rial that had the ef­fect of un­der­min­ing the State.

The Min­is­ter of In­for­ma­tion, Me­dia and Broad­cast­ing Ser­vices, Dr Christo­pher Mushohwe, said Gov­ern­ment was aware of Zim­bab­weans cir­cu­lat­ing mes­sages of ter­ror against the State among them Victor Dube (res­i­dent in South Africa,) Jeff Ju­dah Hos­sana (South Africa) and Tapiwa Marimbe (Aus­tralia) rid­ing on so­cial me­dia. We hope the char­la­tans have been put on no­tice and will only have them­selves to blame if they do not heed the Gov­ern­ment’s warn­ing.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Zimbabwe

© PressReader. All rights reserved.