By Modou S. Joof
“Consequently, government will work with relevant partners on effective cyber security strategies to ensure cyber sanity and security,” Jammeh said on the eve of his July 22 Coup Anniversary, 19 years on.
On Sunday, the Gambian leader said his Government prides itself on the successes registered in building a modern and efficient communication infrastructure – citing the operation of several GSM mobile companies in the Gambia – ranked high in Africa in terms of telephone per capita.
Also, he cited significant investment in broadband internet through the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) submarine cable project which connects the Gambia to the global information superhighway, as a means of enhancing communication.
“The internet now stands out as a unique source of vast information where people can learn about everything ranging from their religion as well as engage in our scholastic endeavour,” Jammeh said.
But he note with grave concern that it is also being used as platform for nefarious and satanic activities, as he puts it, and warned that the government will work with relevant partners on effective cyber security strategies to ensure “cyber sanity and security”.
On July 3, the National Assembly in Banjul, the Gambian capital, passed into law an amendment to the Information and Communication Act 2013, imposing stiffer sanctions on persons found guilty of using the internet to spread false news.
The amended Act specifies that a person commits a criminal offence if he or she uses the internet to spread false news against the government, incite dissatisfaction or instigate violence against the government, caricature, abuse or make derogatory statements against public officials.
Under the law, offenders will be jailed up to 15 years or fined an amount of three million Dalasi (about US$100,000).
The law has since been criticized by media rights campaigners who call for its complete overhaul.
Jammeh seized power in a bloodless military coup on July 22, 1994.