Legal experts urge public to take new data protection law seriously

By Fungai Jachi

Legal experts have warned the public against taking the newly gazetted Data Protection Act lightly as most risk being penalised for breaking this new law.

They also warned that ignorance of the law is not an excuse and failure to grasp the provisions of the new Data Protection Act may see many being charged.

In a discussion on the new law during ZBC News Online’s Inside Out show this Thursday, an attorney and ethical hacker, Mr Simbarashe Murondoti urged the public to have an appreciation of all the provisions of the Act to ensure they do not break the law unknowingly.

“We need to approach this law with caution as the generality of Zimbabweans. Let us be cautious and stop forwarding messages without verifying because that might land someone in trouble,” said Murondoti.

Attorney Ms Rumbidzai Venge described the new law as progressive.

“The Act also realises the limitless nature of the digital space and it’s a good thing that people are going to be brought to book regardless of where they are,” she noted.

Most countries are increasingly adopting the legislation in a global shift to digital records on the basis that people are entitled to protection of privacy and security of their more sensitive information.

The Data Protection Act is meant to encourage technological development and the lawful use of technology, while bringing to book cyber criminals as evidence generated from computer and electronic systems will be permissible in court for offences in terms of the Act.

The Act will also see the creation of the Data Protection Authority which will replace the Postal Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) in playing the oversight role.

It will also regulate the manner in which personal information may be processed and enforces fair processing of data in accordance with the Act.

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