Cybersecurity Bill Allows Police To Seize Phones, Computers Even If Not Directly Involved In Crime Warns Misa

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) has warned that sections of the Cybercrime and Cybersecurity Bill are a threat to human rights. Misa-Zimbabwe warned that the proposed law allows the police and other authorities to seize electronic devices and mobile phones during investigations, even if the devices are not directly involved in the criminal activity being investigated. The bill is yet to be passed by parliament. In a commentary Misa Zimbabwe said

The definition of computer data storage medium is too wide. It gives room for the seizure of personal equipment, which might not fall in the category of traditional data storage devices and equipment.

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The current definition will entrench and legitimise the illegal practice by investigating officers of seizing electronic equipment that is not linked to a cybercrime.

This wide definition includes traditional data storage devices such as external hard drives, but most importantly, it is broad enough to also include cell phones.

The possibility of the inclusion of mobile phones in this definition is based on the fact that mobile phones, by their nature, can reproduce data. The unauthorised access to data on computer data storage mediums is criminalised in terms of Section 6 (1) of the Bill. Section 9, on the other hand, criminalises the unlawful interference of data kept on a computer data storage medium. Such unlawful interference can be in the form of altering, damaging or deleting the data without lawful consent. These are all welcome safeguards meant to ensure the integrity of data stored on all forms of computer data storage mediums.

More: The Zimbabwe Independent

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