African countries cyber security draft laws: Smoke, but no fire

July 25, 2014

Several African countries are currently debating draft laws on cyber security that covers are expected to cover broad range of issues affecting their countries ’s economic survival. A careful study of the draft laws in some of those countries reveals that African countries are going to have in place comprehensive cyber security laws that updates the existing State Defence Laws. Essentially, there have been two types of reactions to the bill as you’d expect, which were mainly introduced in the last three years. Optimists like banking and financial sectors, governments and other enforcements agencies see it as a good effort to protect their country’s national interests. They argue that any nation should feel a duty to contribute ideas to improve the online security on their citizens and ecumenic interests.Those against say anything that comes from the security agencies is suspect, with a hidden agenda. There are more pessimists than optimists these days, and many are saying the new cyber crime laws will be a militaristic tool used to dismantle democracy and abolish freedom of expression online as has been in some African countries.

To be fair, however, one needs to study it thoroughly before drawing any conclusions. It would be unwise to dismiss them even without reading through.In one of the countries drafting Cyber security laws, there are 89 articles addressing the entire spectrum of national security concerns and offers solutions on dealing with the various kinds of threats that country faces in a globalised world. One of the article clearly states that “national Cyber security shall be carried out in conformity with state interest, democratic principles,moral and ethical values, national and international laws.” So if passed, the law will protect rather than violate online freedom, an optimists in that country I spoke to recently say. The law will define Cyber threats across four categories: the nation and state, sustainability of national development, society in its entirety and individual citizens. The spectrum of threats listed in these categories ranges from soft threats to hard threats, be they locally, nationally or internationally generated. In another country, there is an article that defines the threat as an “elements online that can pose a threat to the nation may originate either at home or abroad; they may come from a foreign state, non-state foreign agency or individuals supported by a foreign nation, the bill says.”

Contador Harrison