By Wiseman Tembo
Cyberbullying has become a major problem in our modern “CyberWorld.” Over the past decade, this type of bullying has claimed the lives of many children and adolescents across the globe. It is estimated that half of adolescents have been the victims of cyberbullying. In Zambia, Communication Technology Authority (ZICTA) received 3,075 cases of child abuse online, 615 fake news reports, 551 cyberbullying, 126 identity thefts and 1,150 cyberbullying in the year 2020 alone. An astonishing one in three children and teens have been victims of online bullying.
The statistics are starting but not all hope is lost. Because cyberbullying has become such a damaging and deadly issue, our well meaning lawmakers have now resorted to making cyberbullying laws to help protect victims from online bullies and to bring these bullies to justice.
There is no ounce of doubt that there is a need for strong anti-cyberbullying legislation in our Country. As we all know, cyberbullying can severely impact the victim and their loved ones. Victims can become withdrawn, anxious, depressed, and could potentially resort to suicide in order to end the emotional pain. Cyberharassment leaves victims helpless, in and out of school. Many believe that the permanent nature of the Internet combined with the easy ability to circulate and spread an incident of cyberbullying makes this type of harassment more harmful than traditional, face-to-face bullying.
As a nation, we have had so many victims of cyber bullying with the most notable ones being Captain Thokozile Muwamba and Mwangala Maunga who are both currently on a long walk to Livingston from Lusaka aimed at creating awareness against cyberbullying. Captain Thokozile Muwamba was bullied online for becoming the first ever Zambian female fighter Pilot at the age of 24 while Mwangala Maunga is a young scientist and 2019 Buttercup award winner who was bullied for merely featuring in a DStv advert that some people for whatever sad reasons found irritating.
The two victims mentioned are not the only victims. Someone somewhere is currently being cyberbullied at this very moment and this is why we need cyber laws that will protect all of us because we are all affected. Once enacted into law, the Cyberlaw will address, among others, the online violations which are not covered in our current laws, safeguard the rights of online users and instil a good cybersecurity culture.
Those against the Bill are either playing dumb and ignorant or are hypocrites playing trifling Politics with the view of trivializing a salient and sensitive matter. Cyber laws are long overdue, for instance, our neighboring Countries such as Zimbabwe, Bostwana, South Africa, Tanzania including Malawi already have Cyber security Acts in their laws because they understood long before us the importance of having Cyber laws in place.
Once enacted, the Cyber security law will only be targeted at punishing criminals who commit serious cybercrimes such as hacking, online harassment and data theft. It will no longer be business as usual for Cyber Criminals. There is no justification whatsoever for law abiding citizens being paranoid about the CyberBill being enacted into law because it is meant to protect them from cyber criminals by sanitising the country’s cyberspace already riddled with a web of frauds and malpractices.