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eSwatini govt says new cybercrime bill won’t limit press freedom

The Computer Crime and Cybercrime bill is expected to be tabled in Parliament soon.

Eswatini’s Minister of Commerce, Industry and Trade, Manqoba Khumalo. Picture: Gov.sz.dedi337.nur4.host-h.net/

JOHANNESBURG - eSwatini government leaders on Thursday said that there was no reason for the media to be concerned over a new bill that dealt with cybercrimes and which criminalised what it said was “fake news that is damaging to the country”.

The bill is expected to be tabled in parliament soon.

Child pornography, identity theft, cyber terrorism, and stalking will all explicitly be criminalised once the Computer Crime and Cybercrime bill is passed by eSwatini’s lawmakers.

But the bill also seeks to outlaw posting fake news that is damaging to the country’s image, which could see online news sites targeted and even Facebook users.

eSwatini’s Minister of Commerce, Industry and Trade, Manqoba Khumalo, said that the Kingdom was just catching up with the rest of the world because up to now the country never had laws governing cybersecurity and data protection.

“It is not intended or designed to limit the press freedoms in any shape, way or form but rather it is just to say we want to ensure that basic protections exist as you would find in every other developed country,” Khumalo said.

eSwatini scores badly when it comes to freedom of the press and it has in the past imprisoned and harassed journalists who were critical of the government.

It has also banned opposition parties which the government has accused of terrorism.

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