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.
It must be noted, however, that the wide net cast in this definition causes potential
problems when viewed against Section 33 of the Bill which regulates search and seizure
procedures for the process of investigating cyber crime. In Section 33 (1)(b), computer data
storage mediums are listed as equipment that can be seized in terms of the Act.
This means that while investigating a cyber crime, investigating authorities can seize
computer devices, including mobile phones, even if there is no evidence that the mobile
phones have been plugged into any computer devices belonging to the person(s) under
There are already, instances where the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) Criminal
Investigations Department, has seized mobile devices during investigations. For example,
during investigations in the Martha O’Donovan case in November 2017, investigating officers
seized her mobile phone along with her laptop.
A wide definition of computer data storage mediums will make it possible for investigating
officers to seize any electronic equipment, including equipment which is not directly involved
in the criminal activity being investigated.
This is a major privacy concern because investigating officers will have the discretion to
decide which electronic equipment to grab during cyber criminal investigations.


Select target paragraph3