Parliament on Wednesday passed the Electronic Records Evidence Bill. Once in practice the Bill paves the way for individuals to present digital information as evidence in court.
Defense, Justice and Security minister, Dikgakgamatso Seretse said the bill will enable individuals to print out the original electronic document, then it will have to be certified by the authority as provided by clause 6, and upon approval the document can then be used in court as evidence.“We are not changing any law we just want electronic statements to be recognized by the court,” he said when presenting the Bill in parliament.
However MPs had mixed feelings about he Bill, arguing that it might compromise freedom of expression. “I agree that it will deal with negative comments, the problem is how do we know that it would not be used for the wrong reasons,” enquired Kanye North MP, Kentse Rammidi.Palapye MP, Moisaraela Goya said the legislation is long over due as in today’s world information is stored digitally. He said people have lost court cases in the past due to the fact that electronic evidence was not sufficient. MP for Maun West Twana Moremi said he feared that the legislation might impose on people’s private conversations, hence making communication unsafe.
However minister Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi was pleased that now they will be a legislation that will control the usage of cyberspace, especially social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.“Now people can be held accountable of what they say online, because communication made can be as dangerous and harmful as if it was made in person,” she said adding that the use may however be limited due to shortage of resources.
Venson-Moitoi argued that now people would learn to make constructive comments and manage what they post on electronic media.“This will instill respect and get rid of all the insults that people often share on social media.”In response Seretse said the approval of the Bill was just the beginning of the preparation processes, adding that a team of technicians will have to go and draft in detail what the clauses provide for, after which their recommendation will be debated in parliament before they are passed.