Police claim rise in cyber crime

By John Churu, Gaborone, Botswana

Botswana Police have indicated that there is marked increase in cases of crime involving the internet in the country. The police spokesperson Christopher Mbulawa said most of the crimes involve people posting pornographic material on the internet and crimes that involve children.

Speaking recently However, the police say there are not against people using aliases when opening social internet sites. “We as the police don’t want to hear people asking us to talk on issues that they claim is morally wrong. We want to talk of issues that are criminally wrong,” Mbulawa said. In the same speech, the police said since last month, there was a marked increase in the cases involving the internet as compared to the same time last year. Other crimes identified by the police include people invading in other people’s privacy with some culprits posting sensitive issues that trample on the privacy.

Last week, a local radio station was hauled over the coals after it announced in one of its news bulletins the death of a prominent opposition leader before his next of ken had been notified of his death in a car accident.”

Botswana parliament has promulgated a law that seeks to criminalize those that post offensive material on the internet.  

Eric Tamrkin, from The Institute for Security Studies said “Given the report that Africa is becoming cybercrime safe harbour, the problem could hamper economic growth, foreign investment and security. Policy makers need a cogent response to cybercrime which is informed by a clear understanding of emerging threats and how other countries have formed strategies in response; countries on the continent should adopt a multi-layered approach.”

Advocate Abraham Keetshabe, who is the General Counsel in the Office of the President, said “Cybercrime and Computer Related Crimes Act came into force on 28 December 2007. Cyber crime by its nature knows no boundaries and may collapse the economy of any country. The Cybercrime Act, deals with crime perpetrated through computer systems and covers unauthorised access to a computer or computer system, unauthorised interference with data, accessing computer system with intent to commit an offence, and generally deals with cyber fraud. The Act has been identified for review as a priority under phase 1 of the e-legislation programme of the Government of Botswana,” he explained.

Keetshabe added that “Up until as recently as April 2014, no legislative framework to facilitate and enable the provision of e-services existed in Botswana. Laws tended to prohibit, rather than promote the use of ICT to provide services.”

“For example, the legislation did not provide for recognition of electronic signatures, authenticity of electronic documents and admissibility of electronic evidence, to name a few. These legal challenges are being addressed through the development of simple, consistent and technology-neutral legislation which recognizes all ICT processes and transactions - including recognition of electronic signatures as a valid authentication method for electronic transactions and give confidence to consumers, the business community and Government agencies participating in electronic transactions.” 

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