Namibian civil society organisations have called for a multi-stakeholder approach to finding solutions to combat cyber security and crime in the country.

This is reflected in a report titled ‘Tackling cyber security/crime in Namibia: calling for a human rights respecting framework‘, authored by chairperson of the Access to Information in Namibia (ACTION) Coalition, Frederico Links, and published by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR).

At the launch yesterday, Links said there was a need for multi-stakeholder consultations to draw up a framework for cybersecurity legislation in Namibia.

He said this was necessary because cyberattacks continued to increase globally and that Namibia, like other African countries, has been classified as highly vulnerable to such attacks. Links’ paper states that the cyberattack trend showed a shift from mass fraud to sophisticated attacks targeting individuals, as well as hacking particular companies or institutions.

Globally, he said, the costs, of cyberattacks was also continuously increasing and the estimated cost to the global economy was somewhere between US$375 and US$575 billion per year, and according to sources he quoted, would cost the global economy “an estimated US$3 trillion in productivity and growth by 2020”.

“All stakeholders must be involved in efforts to deal with cybersecurity at the earliest available opportunity. The consequences of the attacks are increasingly geo-political rather than localised,” the report states.

The Namibian reported last year that Namibia was one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to cyberattacks due to a lack of security measures to protect the country against such attacks.

Information minister Tjekero Tweya early last year tabled the electronic transactions and cybercrime bill in the National Assembly, to address cybersecurity issues, amongst others, but the bill was pulled again shortly after being tabled.

Proposals to create a cyber security ministry were also put forward at the Swapo elective congress last November.

According to the Swapo congress resolution, the proposed ministry would aim to control information on social media, hacking, and monitor illicit financial flows.

Links criticised this proposal as appearing to be an attack on legitimate freedom of expression online, as well as pointing out that the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC), in the Bank of Namibia was already mandated to monitor illicit financial flows in and outside the country.

He said for the effective implementation of cybersecurity measures, such plans needed to be agreed to and designed in a “cooperative, multi-stakeholder setting and framework” with various sectors of society, “before rushing through legislation which would not be fit for purpose, and could actually lead to human rights violations”.

Links called on government to restart the law drafting process for a cybersecurity law, while finalising the electronic transactions bill “as a matter of urgency, because our discussions are at a very low level in this country around the issues that should be in the cybersecurity discussion”.

In addition, he urged relevant authorities to commence a review of the “extensive existing body of literature” and materials on cybersecurity to make sure that Namibia’s proposed efforts are “in line with emerging trends and best practices towards the installation of the best possible framework for the Namibian context”.

“We would ideally like to see the whole consultation process restarted because, in actual fact, there was no substantial public consultation around this bill, and we feel that the multi-stakeholder approach will inform the best framework for Namibia,” Links stated.

The full report is available for download here.

* Article courtesy of The Namibian newspaper.