Freedom of speech with respect to the Internet in Malawi, as it is the case regarding television, radio, or written press, is set to be limited by certain principles of public order, a new bill proposes.
Government, in the proposed bill, argues that the current legal framework applicable in Malawi does not provide economic actors and citizens with a secure and reliable legal environment essential to the development of electronic transactions.
Meanwhile, government has invited the public to review the bill and, thereafter, submit comments by October 15.
Among others, the bill also asks editors of online public communication services to offer in an open standard their names, domicile, telephone and registration numbers.
Reacting to the proposed bill, Misa Malawi chairperson Anthony Kasunda on Tuesday said although it is the responsibility of the Executive to formulate bills for consideration in Parliament, major stakeholders should not be left out during the consultative process.
Said Kasunda: â€œUnfortunately, with this proposed bill, it takes us back to the days of Section 46 when we cried foul that government sneaked the bill in Parliament and quickly passed it into law before stakeholders such as the media were adequately consulted.
â€œIn the present scenario, we would ask government to extend the period for consultation to ensure that the bill has as much input as possible from all major stakeholders. It is clear that one of the aims of this piece of legislation is to regulate the online media and government has to tread very carefully on that.â€
Government says it is convinced that its economy can rapidly grow and diversify through participation in the information society.Â
â€œThe current legal framework applicable in the Republic of Malawi does not provide economic actors and citizens with a secure and reliable legal environment which is, however, essential to the development of electronic transactions,â€ reads the notice posted on governmentâ€™s website.