Cybersecurity and Cybercrime
Laws in the SADC Region

rights to free speech, expression association,
access to information and privacy amongst

of dark forms of participation such as the
spread of misinformation, disinformation, malinformation, cyber-bullying, cyber harassment
and revenge porn. This is despite the initial
celebratory views of the internet as technologies
of freedom and accountability. In recent years,
fears about the normalisation of communications
surveillance, roll out of invasive monitoring
and tracking technologies by governments and
corporates, state-ordered Internet shutdowns
as well as the passage of draconian pieces of
legislation have dominated national, regional
and international headlines (Mare, 2020). Instead
of promulgating laws that are consonant with
the Necessary and Proportionate Principles as
articulated by Access Now, Privacy International
(PI), Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and
Association of Progressive Communications
(APC), some SADC countries have brazenly came
up with legal frameworks that violate inalienable
human rights as enshrined in their national

In the era of ‘surveillance capitalism1 ’ (Zuboff,
2018), the increased use and appropriation of
digital technologies has been accompanied by
massive information collection and processing,
including personal data. Data is being
collected, processed, shared and transferred
every day, with or without the knowledge of the
affected persons, which has serious implications
for personal privacy (AFDEC, 2020). Because
of this intrusive collection and procession of
personal data and information by state and
non-state actors, the conceptualization of the
right to privacy has become very f luid and
complicated. The uptake of facial recognition,
video conferencing, contact tracing, artificial
intelligence and machine learning technologies
has expedited the processing, analysis, collection
and storage of data, including personal
information (Zuboff, 2018). These technologies
have augmented surveillance practices, thereby
paving way for the setting up of huge databases
with technical capacities to anonymise and deanonymise data – all on a wide scale. This turn
of events has significant implications on the
right to privacy. In Southern Africa, Hunter
and Murray (2020) have shown that increased
interference with the right to privacy mostly
exists in environments with limited oversight
mechanisms and results in data breaches,
misuse of personal data, un law f u l and
indiscriminate interception of communications
and impermissible data retention policies.
Cognisant of the fact that digital rights have
become an inseparable part of our everyday
lives because of the complex interaction
between human beings and digital technologies,
scholars have begun to foreground the advent

Many governments in the SADC region are
taking steps that undermine internet access
and affordability, and weaken the potential of
digital technologies to catalyse free expression
and civic participation or to drive innovation.
In a number of SADC countries, there has been
an increase in digital rights violations such
as arrests and intimidation of online users,
internet blockages, and a proliferation of laws
and regulations that undermine the potential
of technology to drive socio-economic and
political development in the region. Several
countries have come up with a number of
Bills focusing on data protection, electronic
transactions, cybercrimes and computer crimes
and interception of communications in the
last decade. Instead of helping to increase the
accessibility and availability of ICTs, some of
these pieces of legislation have contributed to

1 It is a “new economic order” and “an expropriation of critical human rights that is best understood as a coup from above”.


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