Zambia had no specific legislation meant to deal with cybercrime until the year 2004 when the legislature passed the Computer Misuse and Crimes Act (Act No. 13 of 2004) Under this Act, cybercrimes like hacking, denial of service attacks, unauthorized access, and modification of data was since criminalized, However, the 2004 Act does not prohibit other major cybercrimes (i.e Child pornography, cyberattacks, and terrorism) and does not respond to the proliferation of new cybercrimes and offenses, necessitating the development of a new legal framework to address these issues.
On 23rd March 2021, President Lungu has assented into law the Cyber Security and Cyber Bill of 2021 with the aim of ensuring cybersecurity in the Republic as well as providing protection of persons against cybercrime.
It's worth noting that the Act dedicates seven chapters to cybersecurity issues, but only one to cybercrime. Furthermore, the Act places a strong emphasis on cybersecurity policy, granting government agencies the authority to regulate, oversee, and coordinate cybersecurity-related activities.
As a result, the Act established the Zambia Computer Incidence Response Team (ZM CIRT) as the regulator responsible for enforcing the Act's provisions as well as serving as a point of contact for the handling of cyber incidents and coordination between local, regional, and international cybersecurity emergency response teams.
According to the Act, the ZM CIRT may appoint a cyber inspector with the authority to access, scan, and seize any information system relevant to an investigation, and a cybersecurity technical specialist may be appointed for a given time to assist the cyber inspector in his missions.
The Act also creates another institution under the name of "National Cyber Security Advisory and Coordinating Council," which oversees and evaluates the performance of the Zambia CIRT in terms of cybersecurity and submits periodic reports to the Minister on the subject.
Regarding cyber crime‘s provisions, the Act added additional offences compared to the 2004 Act, such as child pornography and child solicitation, hate speech, and cyber terrorism and assault, among others.
The Act has raised some concerns because some of its provisions could stifle free speech, particularly the Harassment offense, which punishes "any electronic communication with the intent to coerce, intimidate, harass, or cause substantial emotional distress to a person" with penalties of up to one year in prison, fines, or both, which may be used to restrict freedom of expression and legitimatize repression.