Proposed Cyber Security Bill goes through pre-legislative stage in parliament

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 5 August 2020:

Sierra Leone’s controversial proposed Cyber Security laws which have been tabled in parliament by the ministry of information and communication on behalf of the government for enactment, saw its passage through pre-legislative committee stage yesterday, where it was discussed by MPs and stakeholders.

Yesterday’s parliamentary committee debate follows last Thursday’s one-day Stakeholders Consultative Forum on the proposed Cyber Security Bill, organised by the ministry of information at the Country Lodge in Freetown.

Delivering his keynote address at last Thursday’s stakeholders’ consultative forum, Minister of Information and Communications – Mohamed Rahman Swaray, said that the purpose of the stakeholders’ consultative meeting was to build a consensus on the draft Cyber Security Bill, which his ministry has worked hard in collaboration with the Office of the Attorney General and the Law Officers Department to produce.

He urged stakeholders to fearlessly debate the proposed Bill and ask questions that will enrich the debate and enhance the strength of the proposed law, to address current and emerging challenges facing the country in cyberspace.

Yesterday in parliament, MPs had the opportunity to debate the proposed cyber security laws, and in his opening statement, Minister of Information and Communications – Mohamed Rahman Swaray, thanked the leadership of Parliament for the opportunity to present the proposed Cyber Security Bill for onward enactment into law.

As a government, he said their responsibility is not only to protect citizens in real life but also to ensure that citizens’ cyber space is protected. He described the Bill as a specialized Legislation that required the expertise of professionals in putting it together.

He stated that the ministry has held series of consultations with Civil Society, MNO (Mobile Network Operators) Service Providers, Members of Parliament and a host of other stakeholders including the Attorney General’s Office.

The Leader of Government Business, Hon. Sahr Mathew Nyuma, recalled that they attended the consultative meeting held at the Radison Blu Hotel by the Ministry of Information, where they extensively discussed issues relating to the proposed Cyber Bill including the Malabo and Budapest Conventions which set standards for the use of Cyber space.

Having been a victim of Cyber-crime on a number of occasions, Hon. Nyuma warned that everyone would be vulnerable if the country does not enact tough laws to deal with the situation.

The Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary School Education,  Dr. David Moinina Sengeh, appealed to Members of Parliament to take into cognizance the fact that hacking can be used for negative and positive reasons, and that should be considered when deliberating on the Bill.

Hon. Chernor M. Bah, the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, described the Bill as sensitive and the most important to be deliberated on by the present Parliament because it affects each and every one in the country.

The Director of the Directorate of Science and Technology (DSTI) – Michaela Mackay, said that the Bill should be very clear on offences and punishments. She encouraged the Minister of Information to work on the Data Protection Bill as well, so that it can sit alongside the Cyber Security Bill, maintaining that both Bills should  go together.

The Chairman of the  Legislative Committee in Parliament,  Hon. Hindolo Moiwo Ngevao, said the proposed Bill is professionally drafted, and that when passed into law it will help address many issues confronting the use of cyber space.

He assured that MPs will work tirelessly to ensure that they have a good piece of legislation that will stand the test of time.

Source Credit: Bampia James Bundu, Strategic Communications Unit, Ministry of Information and Communications

5 Comments

  1. @ Saa Edward Fillie – Yet another dreamer. Priorities man! This is not the time for this! There is NO underlying infrastructure to build this on. I am a Cyber Security Manager at Lockheed Martin, an SME on the subject. Trust me, I know what it takes

  2. This is another futile exircise grabbing headlines. It is wonderful to see president Bio and his Mark Zuckerbergs or the Steve Jobs, the Bill Gates in his government are trying to leap-frog Sierra Leone to a high tech nation to the likes of South Korea, Estonia and Japan. This cyber security Bill is another lofty promise made by this government on the huff, trying to divert from the real economic issues facing our country. We need good roads, 24 hours electricity in Freetown never mind the rest of the country.

    Yes it will be great if they succeed in making our country the internet hub or the Silicon Valley of West Africa. Sierra Leone is not Estonia, which is one of the countries that is leading the world in this high speed Internet age. And back in the 2000s, the first country to be hit by cyber criminal activities by state actors, which paralysed their banking and hospitals systems. The citizens of Estonia can virtually do every thing on their mobile phones and tablets. For instance they can do most of their shopping online and even cast their votes. Can you imagine in the middle of announcing an election results in Freetown, we have a power cut! Or the polling booth computers goes into a reset mode, then what? The tribalistic nature will render any common sense explanations to conspiracy theories.

    I think the government should think about developing our infrastructure like roads and 24 hours electricity first, before we jump the gun. To me this pipe dream sounds like suddenly we are told by the Bio government, through his great leadership, he has steered our country to the world cup final. And we have defeated Brazil at the Siaka Stevens stadium and lifted the world cup! Well that’s what the cyber security bill is equivalent to. May God bless the Republic of Sierra-leone.

  3. Its a bizarre delusional thing for little children to awkwardly try and fit themselves into giant shoes far too big for them. Our little nation once again trying to leap over mountains when still crawling in its wet worn-out diapers.(lol) When will these inept people finally understand that the simple basics of building solid and sustainable foundations for success in every program or initiative demands that we first begin by getting our priorities sensibly in order. Of what use is a Cyber Security Bill when it is passed into law to the poor naive struggling masses of Sierra Leone? How will laborers and market-women directly benefit from it? Will their empty pockets become fatter? Answer – how are the little guys – mechanics, shoemakers and carpenters going to be duly rewarded from this ill-advised scheme? Who needs hackers when the keys to our treasury are already in the hands of freeloaders JJ Saffa and David Francis?(lol)

    This is just another cunning zigzagging fleecing scheme designed to rob and plunder a nation already on its knees by a criminal SLPP Cabal. Goodness gracious! With every chance they get, every superficial policy crafted they are milking the system dry. Trust me when this is all over and they are out of power people in the South would have all grown huge oxygen balloon sized potbellies, even adorable itsy-bitsy little children.(lol)

    Again,our country is muddled with the disabled and mentally ill, why not create and pass a bill that authorizes and mandates the ministry of Health to get them off the streets fend and care for them in a decent and hygienic environment?And what’s with you guys and the strange impulse to ignore human suffering and need,shrugging it off,and looking away yet indulging yourselves devotedly in profitless showboating ventures? Sincerely, I sometimes feel so ashamed to call you impious depraved degenerate individuals fellows Sierra Leoneans…To hell with you and your arrogant ill-advised showboating scheme!

    • Stargazer said: “Sincerely, I sometimes feel so ashamed to call you impious depraved degenerate individuals fellows Sierra Leoneans…To hell with you and your arrogant ill-advised showboating scheme!” Calm down Stargazer – easy on the language please. Thank you.

  4. Congrats to H.E. President Julius Maada Bio and his Government for such a excellent move to lay the Foundation for the incooperation of Forensic and Cybersecurity as a Critical Governance Priority. This is a historic landmark in the field if Forensic and Cybersecurity Infrastructure. And this will finally serrve as a Platform to create Sierra Leone Armed Forces Forensic and Cyber Command and Sierra Leone Police Forensic and Cyber Command.

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