SADC lawyers discuss regional impact of cyber laws
By John Churu, Gaborone, Botswana
Members of the Legal fraternity from SADC converged in Gaborone last week for the 18th SADC Lawyers Association Annual Conference. On the table were a number of topics including some on Cybercrime. Titled, “A developing SADC: Measuring the impact of Cyber law and crimes on Legal Practice Initiatives and regional cooperation – How to protect yourself and your clients,” the lawyers and judges present brainstormed on how the issues of electronic crime would be approached from the legal point of view.
Chaired by Dr. Omponye Coach Kereteletswe from Botswana and Judith Tembo from The lawyers association of Zambia, the gathering agreed that there is a significant increase in crimes involving computers and the internet that are damaging the region’s security and economies, therefore, the profession needs to learn techniques for using cyber tools and methods to investigate computer and internet related activities. “We explore the need to harmonize and standardization of legislation in SADC in order to successfully tackle cyber-crime.”
The panelists included, Acting CEO of Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) Tshoganetso Kepaletswe, Judge Adrian Mambi from Tanzania, and Ramon Masdorp from the Law Society of Namibia. Also on the ‘bench’ were; Osaka Odondo who is Google Legal Counsel for Sub-Saharan Africa and Advocate Abraham Keetsabe the current Attorney General of Botswana.
The lawyers view was that, Cyber Security is a global challenge and it poses unique security challenges; global reach of ubiquitous networks, speed, jurisdictions and enforcement. “Deals and online transactions are initiated and concluded online, the e-commerce transactions were estimated to be over $16 trillion in 2013. The technologies for authenticating and methods for exchanging contractual information are rapidly changing. Appropriate legislations, technical measures, International and regional cooperation are required to ensure the protection of clients online,” they said.
Accordingly, for the SADC lawyers who were gathered in Gaborone, in this time of IoT, the internet is a global communication tool, therefore it is very important that cybersecurity legal frameworks are internationally and regionally harmonised to facilitate the investigation and prosecution of crimes in the cyberspace. Hence, the ITU assisted SADC countries and developed the following model laws: Cybercrime and Computer Crime Act, Data Protection Act, Electronics Transactions Act, Electronic Signature. Cybersecurity requires a multi-stakeholder approach and international cooperation.
For the lawyers, “Capacity building is required for the service providers, Consumer awareness and education, Children online protection initiatives, Capacity building for the legal profession and the Justice department.”
Giving his presentation the BOCRA CEO Tshoganetso Kepaletswe, noted to the lawyers that “Cybercrime requires cooperation of the various stakeholder. A national cybersecurity strategy to clarify the roles of the various players. In that vein, capacity building is very important for the legal fraternity to address the issues of cybercrime; Cybersecurity awareness and consumer education of the clients is key for their protection; International and regional treaties are required to address the issues of cybercrime; The use of appropriate electronic tools such as electronic signatures will assist in protecting clients in some of the online deals.” He explained that there are multiple international and regional institutions and conventions such as: Budapest Convention on Cybercrime; African Union Convention on Cybersecurity and Personal data protection; Commonwealth Cybercrime Initiative; European Cybercrime Centre; International Telecommunication Union (ITU); UNDOC, UNGA and many more.
“The key requirements of secure electronic signature are: Uniqueness, Impossibility of forgery, Ease of authentication, impossibility of denial. The Secure Electronic Signatures are based on the application to electronic data of an algorithm contained within the data stream which authenticates the identity stream of the sender by encoding the document until the intended recipient unlocks the stream.”
As for the relevant act, he said the Act requirements for the Secure Electronic Signature are: The signature creation is, within the context in which it is used, linked to the signatory and to no other person; The signature creation data was, at the time of signing, under the control of the signatory, and to no other person; Any alteration of electronic signature, made after the signing, is detectable to provide assurance and integrity; The standard for accrediting are based on international standard.
Secure Electronic Signature
The secure electronic signature can be used for various applications to provide the security and online trust, such as; Document, form and file/folder digital signatures, end-to-end secure encrypted emails, file encryption, device certificates (SSL and EV SSL), Remote access authentication, VPN, Intranet, Extranet, Portal and web services security (Https) Application security including Internet applications.
Another very important issue that did not escape the gathering of lawyers was the Electronic Records (Evidence) Act which according to BOCRA CEO, appointed Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) as the certifying authority for the purpose of this act. “The certifying authority is required to establish “an approved process” in accordance with any regulations for the certification of electronic records systems. The regulations establish the “approved process” that will be followed in certifying the electronic records systems in accordance with the Act” he said.
In Botswana, the Electronic Communications and Transaction Act (ECTA) was enacted in 2014 and it commenced on 1st April 2016 with the passing of secondary legislation (Regulations), Electronic Communications and Transaction Act facilitates electronic commerce (e-commerce) and provides for: The legal recognition of the electronic communications; Formation of online contracts; Provision of Secure Electronic Signatures; Online Consumer Protection. BOCRA is responsible for the accreditation of secure electronic signature providers.
The SADC Lawyers Association, The SADC Lawyers Association is the representative body of lawyers, law societies and bar associations in the 15 member SADC region. Formed in 1999 at an inaugural meeting of lawyers in the SADC Region that was held in Maputo, Mozambique, the mission of the Association is to uphold and defend the rule of law without fear or favour.