Posted by: Conrad Mwanawashe | April 13, 2016

Zim ICT Policy Almost Ready

Opinion

THE other day I chewed almost the whole barrel of my pen. I was using the pen to complete the set of forms for membership at this institution in central Harare. Chewing the barrel of the pen is a habit for me which I believe somehow enhances my thinking capacity. But this time the kind of thinking was associated with the amount of personal information required on the forms. Somehow, I felt this institution was intruding for they wanted information about my blood group, my height, my children including where I was born and when.

They almost wanted to know why I was born!

In my thought process many questions flashed through my mind.

What if all this valuable information is leaked just like the WikiLeaks, or recently the Panama files?

What if the institution is hacked, what will become of my personal data?

How much security does this institution have on personal data?

I am not the only one in this “barrel chewing” business when faced with sets of forms to complete.

To make matters worse, banks, insurance companies, medical aid societies from time to time require customers and members to update their personal data under the “Know Your Customer” requirements.

This poses challenges to the security of the amount of data they hold.

But how much is personal data worth?

Worldwide some unscrupulous organisations collect data from customers and sell to advertisers and data brokers. There is a thriving black market for data in the digital economy.

Cybercriminals have created a web of networks fuelling a digital economy for stolen data.

But Zimbabweans should not worry about cybercriminals because Government is almost done with an Information Communication and Technology policy, ICT, Postal and Courier Services Minister Supa Mandiwanzira has said.

The ICT Policy is aimed at addressing the abuse of personal data and protect people from cyberbullying which takes place using electronic technology.

“Some of the issues the ICT Policy and the Bills (Cyber Security Bill, Data Protection Bill, the E-Commerce Bill) will respond to include abuse of people’s data when they go to banks, insurance houses, medical aid societies. Data is now being spread all over, people hacking into accounts and sending negative stuff all over. We are going to address these issues very soon,” said Minister Mandiwanzira.

He said only last week the Cabinet committee which is looking into the ICT Policy received important input that is now being finalised for further discussion.

According to Minister Mandiwanzira, the passing of the ICT Policy will pave the way for the introduction of various Bills relating to data.

“I must say that most of the pre-parliament work on the Cybersecurity Bill, Data Protection Bill, the E-Commerce Bill has been done. What remains is for the processes at Cabinet to clear the policy.

“Once the policy is out of the way you shall see a pipeline for these Bills coming to parliament and they will respond to the various challenges that we are beginning to face within social media space,” he said.

Some of the objectives of the policy include; to develop a legal framework that addresses issues related to cyber security, protection of data, intellectual property rights (IPRs), broadband, e-transactions and ethical and moral rights; and facilitate provision and maintenance of infrastructural facilities necessary for ICT development, such as reliable supply of energy, communications and transport.

The policy also seeks to put in place mechanisms to ensure that existing infrastructure is effectively utilised through, among other modalities, sharing to avoid duplication; manage internet traffic at national level as well as on the Gateways; systematically promote and support the relevant and sustainable development of ICTs; embark on extensive capacity building and training programmes to provide adequate supply of qualified ICTs personnel and knowledge workers in all sectors and advocate for the establishment of ICT structures for effective implementation of ICT strategies.

It will ensure the promotion of the research and development of local ICT products regionally and internationally; promote local content development in indigenous languages; establish institutional mechanisms and procedures for determining sectoral application priorities and promote, support and enhance the development and use of ICTs and ensure equitable access to attendant benefits across gender, youths, children, people living with disabilities and the elderly- Herald

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