GOVERNMENT’S efforts to develop a comprehensive cyber security law received a boost from Vodacom Lesotho who sponsored a stakeholder workshop this week to deliberate on pertinent issues around cyber security.
Lesotho lacks laws to regulate and specify cyber space crimes.
Government has however, drafted the Computer Crime and Cyber Crime Bill which was developed on the guidelines of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) model.
The bill seeks to provide a legal framework to criminalise computer and network-related crimes; to provide for investigation and collection of evidence for computer and network-related crime; to provide for the admission of electronic evidence for such offences, and to provide for matters connected with or incidental to the foregoing.
Late last year, government through the Lesotho Communications Authority (LCA) raised concerns about the abuse of social media by certain elements of the public to the detriment of the country’s stability.
The LCA also pushed the country’s two mobile network operators, Vodacom Lesotho and Econet Telecom Lesotho to state their position on the proposed temporary shutdown of Facebook and Twitter in the country.
Vodacom Lesotho’s Executive Head of Department: Corporate Affairs Tšepo Ntaopane this week said a well-regulated cyberspace was imperative as it encompasses a broad spectrum of social challenges such as child kidnapping, child pornography, financial crimes among others.
“The objective was therefore to bring together the experts to share experiences and best practices as well as to open dialogue among various stakeholders to help shape policy considerations and the best possible direction for Lesotho,” Mr Ntaopane said in an interview with the Lesotho Times on the sidelines of the workshop this week.
He said the workshop which was organised in collaboration with the Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology was also informed by government’s concerns on the abuse of social media to destabilise the country.
“This workshop was as a result of that government concern and our understanding that people should have freedom of speech which has to be used responsibly.
“So, for us it is an issue of how we balance the government’s concern with issues of the right to freedom of expression. So the workshop was to thrash out these issues in a way to inform the development of a regulatory framework for responsible usage of the cyber space.”
For his part, Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology Tšeliso Khomari reiterated government’s concerns on the misuse of social media.
“All of us bear testimony to the fact that social media in Lesotho is unregulated, and provides a challenge to government because the degree of the political instability and mayhem that it is able to produce.
“As if it is not enough, issues pertaining to cyber security go as far as the ability to create a safe environment conducive to sound and safe local and international investment climate within Lesotho.
“This workshop is therefore meant, to help us appreciate and fully complement the need to establish an ICT- related and dominated economy that is well regulated,” Mr Khomari said.
He said the draft bill was back at the consultative stage and inputs from the workshop could still be captured in the final bill.
The one day workshop was also attended by representatives from the Information and Communication Technology sector, law enforcement agencies and the private sector among others.