A proposed cybercrime bill would allow the government to crack down on content of the internet including social media platforms such as Facebook, Instragram and Twitter and give stiffer punsihsment for crimes such as hacking and computer fraud.
The bill will come into law when President Peter Mutharika assents to it.
Under the new legislation, Malawians will be punished for unauthorised access, interception or interference with data, child pornography, cyber harassment, offensive communication, cyber stalking, hacking, cracking and introduction of viruses.
“The objective of the bill is to set up a responsive ICT legal framework that shall facilitate competition, development of ICT and the participation of the Republic of Malawi in the information age and economy,” reads the bill, emphasising that it purports to ensure that the development, deployment and exploitation of ICT within the economy and society and related legal provisions balance as well as protect community and individual interests, including privacy and data protection issues.
The other objective is where the bill seeks to address ethical issues in the use of ICT to protect the rights of children and the under-privileged.
It also seeks to define favourable tax policies that promote ICT products and services that originate from within the Republic of Malawi besides providing a responsive and efficient regulatory environment, promote economic subsectors, assets accumulation and tax activities that arise from ICT use.
“Meanwhile, the Malawian public shall be protected from undesirable impacts of ICTs including the spread of pornographic materials, cybercrimes and digital frauds,” the bill pledges.
The Bill has laid out fines ranging from K1 million to K10 million which will be meted for the violations of the electronic transactions.
Once it becomes the law, it will put in place mechanisms that will safeguard the public from fraud, breach of privacy, misuse of information and immoral behaviour brought about by the use of ICT.
The Bill empowers the court, on application by a cyber inspector, to issue a warrant of arrest for an offence committed in Malawi or the subject of an investigation is a Malawian or a person ordinarily resident in Malawi, present in Malawi at the time when the warrant was applied or information relevant to an investigation is accessible within the area of jurisdiction of the court.
The Act also imposed a fine of K10 million and 15 years imprisonment to any person who hacks into any computer system, or introduces or spreads a virus into a computer system or network and it also imposes a K5 million fine and seven years imprisonment to any person who wilfully or maliciously renders a computer system incapable of providing normal services to its legitimate uses.
It also imposes 10 years imprisonment to any person who uses Internet as a medium for any illegal activities or trade fraudulent transaction or a means of procuring any Internet related fraud.
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