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Wednesday, 1 April 2015

CYBERCRIME ACT WON’T INFRINGE ON FREEDOM, DEMOCRACY

To start with, this year I showed my concern on cyber crime as far as the social media is concerned, pointing out the loop holes the cyber criminals have in the up coming general election, the referendum, criminals groups and other issues which are sensitive as far as the national security is concerned. Moreover there has been great fear from the organisation to individuals on the safety and security of their financial transactions through credit card, mobile money and other online transactions. Reported and unreported criminals acts relating to stalking, use of abusive language, pornography for children, and other cyber crimes has been a World threat and Tanzania in particular in this information and technology age.

Organised cybercrimes in the UK has been proposed Life in prison “SEE THE ATTACHED STORY HERE” this example showed that the concern is extremely higher across all nations and Tanzania to finally tabled cyber law bill for discussion has brought hope for the very promising and bright future on securing its cyberspace.
 I would like to write my opinion about the up coming bill, try to address the fear which is among the information technology users and finally advice the Government on the next step in her initiative in securing our cyber space ageist the cyber criminals whose number has been increasing day after day.

In a simple language that can be understood by anyone, the cyber crime is the use of information technology to carry out criminals acts. The crime committed online is different from that which is committed offline, if offline criminal steal your book the possession shift from you to the criminal, but if a criminal copy your book from your computer you will have your book and criminal will have the same book!.Another example, if you want to insult a Member of Parliament or any one offline you need to appear physically and insult him, but through online anonymity you can do that without being known. Through your computer at home connected to the internet you can access bank account and steal money, you can interfere the TV programs, you can destruct the critical infrastructure and cause serious problems. 

Following the cyber crime bill which is to be tabled in the parliament on 1st April 2015 there has been much discussion in different forum about the bill that it will infringe the internet freedom and democracy. I happened to read the bill and read some opinions from different people in the social media, I will give my opinion based on what I have read by explain in the simple language the content of the bill and what is entailed in this bill.

To start with, most of provisions in this bill teaches and shape us on how to better use the information technology in a constructive way, give room for international collaboration with other countries in combating cyber crime and trying to fill the gapes and loopholes for cyber criminals. This bill has touched most of the cyber crimes the country has experience and those which are new in Tanzania. The criminals acts like; Illegal Access, Illegal remaining, Illegal interception, Illegal data interference, Data espionage, Illegal system interference, Illegal device, Computer-related forgery, Computer-related fraud, Child pornography, Pornography, Identity related crimes, Publication of false information, Racist and xenophobic material, Racist and xenophobic motivated insult, Genocide and crimes against humanity, Unsolicited messages, Disclosure of details of an investigation, Obstruction of investigation, Cyber bullying, Violation of intellectual property rights, Principal offenders, Attempt, Conspiracy to commit offence, Protection of critical information infrastructure, Offences relating to critical information infrastructure. All the above have been mentioned and given the required penalties from the proposed bill.

We can agree that the cyber crime rate in Tanzania have been increasing day by day, now we have an average of 999 reported cyber crimes. The fear on cyber crime has been high from the private to public institutions. Millions of money has been stolen from individual accounts in bank and in their mobile phones.Public, personal and Government confidential information have been accessed on line, no privacy, Social media has been used in a destructive way to penetrate hatred among different groups, cyber stalking and child pornography is also growing. The bill has addressed all these problems and it is my hope that the next step which is public awareness and training for stakeholders starting from enforcement agents will follow.


The bill has advantage to almost every person who use and who does not use the information technology, this includes the artists; people download and upload their works without their consent, the bankers, journalist,politician,the enforcement agents and other professionals

People are talking about the democracy and internet freedom; you can agree with me too much freedom on the cyber space has great cost implication on national security, theft, fear and many other things which I have mentioned that criminal can do online.

Financial gain
For us to get rid of the unknown fear of internet freedom and the privacy, let see the real fear and attack that cybercrime are capable of. Many people nowadays are afraid of putting their money in the Bank, to put their money in their mobile phones, to use their credit card, to do online transaction just because of the fear of the cyber criminals to steal money from their accounts, from their mobiles and from their credit or debit cards. This has great economic significant not only to individual person but for the country at large. This aspect has been well addressed in the bill and the required penalties

Government confidential
It’s our role to keep the personal and public confidential information in a safe way that criminals can not access them. For example a medical doctor can not send medical test result to a third person, Official entrusted with government information can not send the document from the central Government to member of political party, or any other unauthorized person. There has bee incidence where entrusted people disseminate the confidential information on a social media, officials selling the information and putting the Government in a serious problem. We have witness the US citizen Edward Snowden who leaked classified information from national security to the mainstream media and caused serious problems. In Tanzania the criminals are sharing the Government confidential information on cyber space. The bill has protected personal, organisational and top secret information to the public in order to protect our national security.

Social media
It is just few month I published an article in this news paper about the war going on in a social media and the loop holes for cyber criminals, the criminals have loop hole in the coming election, the criminals have loop holes in anything that need public opinion, they can distort the information and turn the national security down through the doctrines that propagates violence, recruiting terrorist groups, organising crimes. We have many examples for the role that social media played in Kenya election 2013, England 2011, Turkey and Tunisia.

We are all aware that, one of the most important things that Tanzania has been proud of and still proud is the respect and tolerance which Tanzanian has shown among their religions. The cyber space has allowed the criminals to penetrate the racist and xenophobic materials that touch the religions and cause problems in our society. We have witnessed posts in social media that are playing big role to propagate the hatred between the two religions in Tanzania. This bill will mitigate this problem and ensure our society is peaceful and people respect each other despite of our differences in political, ethnicity, and religion.

Cyber staling
Cyber stalking in Tanzania is very high and the victims of this type of cyber crime are our sisters and our mothers. We have witnessed people sending harassment hate, threatening mobile message, and e-mail, malicious rumors to other people and it has caused a serious problem to peoples. Few incidences are reported and many are not reported, to prevent this type of crime has come with penalties for this type of crime. 

Child pornography
Let’s be realistic and not just discuss this in a selfish way. Who would like her child to be seen on a cyber space engaged in pornography or any other sexually explicit conduct? Even if it is true one wouldn't like to see his child on the cyber space watching or involving in any way in child pornography. Criminals are posting pornography; criminals are involving our children in pornography.

In a social media people have received this bill and looked at it on one side, it is funny people are making this bill and discussing it in a political arena, people are claiming it to limit the freedom of expression, intervening ones privacy and other things. I can tell you the cyber threat is serious and it requires strict regulatory and legal framework to countermeasure this threat. What are you afraid if you don’t publish false information on social media, what do you afraid if you don’t use social media to penetrate hatred among Tanzanian, what do you afraid if you don’t misuse the information technology?
I think this bill should be read and understood clearly. The cyber war is very dangerous than convectional war. The penalties and the enforcement mechanism should be very strict to allow no room for criminals to misuse the cyber space. In each post I have come across I have not seen any alternative suggestions as how we can combat the growing cyber crime in Tanzania.

The big challenge is cyber crime investigation is time between the committed crime and the investigation, cyber crime if very fast and the investigation need procedures. The bill has considered this and it has given the investigation agents to secure the information from the service providers and operators on a suspected person.

Among the two important steps is to have regulatory control and education the user of cyber space. This bill has restored our values as Tanzanian which was about to be lost, peopled will use the cyber space in a constructive way. I support this bill and I call for all stake holders to go for next stage of awareness programs and training. I expect the Government and other stake holders will take this second step serious to educate the citizen on constructive way of using cyber space. By educating them on potential threat, information security, safety programs and the legal aspects including the penalties for misusing the cyber space.


There is no nation alone can effectively fight the cyber crimes, as the crime depicts it is committed on a cyber space, so international collaboration is required among the countries. For effective international collaboration we need harmonized legal and regulatory framework that will facilitate the collaboration. This bill is not different from other cyber crime bills I have been reading from different countries.