Proposed Bill Will Allow Rwanda to Strike Back at Online Enemies

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A newly proposed ‘National Cyber Security bill will give more powers to Cyber Security Agency to launch cyber-attacks both within and outside the country in case national security is at risk.

Parliament had in December 2016 passed this bill setting up the National Cyber Security Agency with powers to handle cybercrimes and threats, pending the signature of the president.

However, the bill ‘bounced’ back to the parliament floor on ground that its content was limited and the president’s office recommended that the bill agency should have more powers to handle national cyber and internet related security issues.

Jean Philbert Nsgengimana, the Minister of Youth and ICT told parliament that some of the role and responsibilities of the agency were not clear in the previous bill and this had to be made very clear- to protect, attack and prevent any potential threats to national security.

“The agency will have powers to conduct investigations on any cyber threats in public and private organs. This will be aimed at assessing threat levels and in the interest on national and citizen’s security” Nsgengimana said.

The bill was presented the parliamentary commission on education, culture, ICT and Youth after amendments were made by the Minister of Youth and ICT and Rwanda Utility Regulatory Agency (RURA) since last month.

Members of parliament questioned how the new agency and its new responsibilities will be integrated within the existing security organizations and operations, which have the same powers to carry out investigations on similar issues.

The minister said that the new agency will have powers to carry out investigations in collaboration with existing security organs to curb any cyber-attacks and keep a keen eye on any suspicious cyber curtails in the country.

The bill is currently undergoing a process of article correction and the parliament is expected to resubmit the proposed bill to the president’s office soon for approval before the agency comes into existence.

Rwanda has been on cyber alert after investing heavily in its ICT sector and in 2015 established a cyber-security strategic plan but also become the second country in the East African region after Kenya to launch a $3 million cyber security system aimed at protecting public and private institutions against online crimes.

‘Africa Cyber Security Report was compiled in conjunction with United States International University-Africa’s Centre for Informatics Research and Innovation

In East Africa, Kenya recorded the highest losses of $171 million due to cyber criminals. Tanzania lost $85 million while Ugandan companies lost $35 million.

It indicates that 93% of surveyed African companies acknowledge that cybercrime is affecting their organisations yet expenditure on cyber security remains low while 96% of cyber security incidents are not reported as companies opt to protect their reputations.

 

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