Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) on Thursday cautioned the youth about the legal implications of cyber bullying.
Deputy Director for legal and Consumer affairs at MACRA, Thokozani Chimbe, said the Electronic Transaction Act under Section 87 equates cyber bullying to online harassment and if found guilty, it can attract an imprisonment of 15 years and payment of MK 10 million as penalty.
Chimbe was speaking during the 2019 Safer Internet Day (SID) at Mkwichi Secondary School in Lilongwe where the commemoration was heard after the first was heard in Blantyre.
Malawi joined the international community in commemorating the 2019 Safer Internet Day (SID) on Tuesday, February 5, 2019 in Blantyre.
MACRA in collaboration with its partners called for increased awareness on the importance of safety and protection on the Internet.
Chimbe said reckless sharing of information online that negatively affects others is also considered as a crime as well as cyber bullying.
“The youth need to be internet smart by avoiding misuse of internet by bullying others through their posts as this has legal implications and can also affect their careers and academic life,” she said.
Chimbe said the youth should try as much as possible to live a clean digital print, meaning that their record online needed to be clean without a trace of negativity because nowadays employers and international universities search for profiles online to check for a person’s moral uprightness.
She also advised the youth to refrain from taking and sending nude photos of themselves as this can be used against them for cyber bullying and be arrested and imprisoned for sharing pornographic materials under the E-transaction Act.
“No one should fool you to send them photos where you are in an inappropriate position and nude, this is very dangerous because phones get lost and you never know who will have a chance of seeing the photos and sharing them online,” she said.
Chimbe said misusing the internet has long lasting implications that can never be erased. She said it was advisable to be cautious when online.
President of Information and Communication Technology of Malawi (ICTAM), Bram Fudzulani said cyber bullying needed collaborative effort with different stakeholders to educate the nation on its legal implications.
“The youth go online without knowing the dangers that exit so there is need for awareness at a young age,” he said.
He said cyber bullying was a concern in Malawi and that serious interventions needed to be put in place to curb the malpractice as people take it as a normal thing to go online and start harassing others.
From cyber bullying to social networking each year, Safer Internet Day aims at raising awareness on emerging online issues and chooses a topic to reflect current concerns. This year’s theme is ‘Together for a better internet’.