Sharing or broadcasting intimate photographs or videos without the authorisation of the person in question can result in a five-year prison sentence, Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (Potraz) has warned.
This comes at a time when regional and even Zimbabwean media outlets hardly go a day without reporting on revenge pornography or other similar vices.
The distribution of intimate photos or videos of identifiable people without their consent on social media platforms such as WhatsApp and Twitter is now a crime under the recently amended Data Protection Act.
The law seeks to curb the humiliation and embarrassment of persons whose intimate images and or videos would have been shared.
In a statement released yesterday, Potraz general manager Dr Gift Machengete warned the public that sharing private information illegally could result in legal consequences.
“POTRAZ as the designated Data Protection Authority of Zimbabwe has noted with concern the increasing number of incidents of collection, sharing, distribution and or broadcasting of intimate images and or videos without the consent of the person whose intimate images and or videos would,” he said.
Even though there is the option of a level 10 fine, those who forward or distribute intimate videos on WhatsApp groups and other social media platforms can face up to five years in prison or both.
Dr Machengete said intimate images and videos form part of personal information which is categorised as sensitive data under the Cyber and Data Protection Act.
“The Act prohibits the collection, sharing and distribution of sensitive data without the consent of the data subject.
“The Cyber and Data Protection Act (Chapter 12:07) as read with Section 164E of Criminal Law Codification & Reform Act )Chapter 9:07) prohibits the collection, transfer, sharing and or broadcasting of intimate images and or videos without the consent of the person concerned.”
The law also empowers citizens to have control over the processing of their personal information. “Members of the public are strongly advised against the collection, sharing or distribution and or broadcasting of sensitive personal information, including any intimate images and or videos of any person without the consent of the data subject.
“The Authority shall take appropriate regulatory action to ensure a high standard of data protection for citizens,” Dr Machengete said. In Zimbabwe, and probably globally, there has been a proliferation of cases in which disgruntled men and women distribute sexually explicit material in a bid to humiliate their ex-partners.
More often than not, jilted lovers or ex-lovers have a propensity to publish nudes of their former lovers on social media without their consent usually after a nasty breakup. Recently, social media sensation Mai Tt (real name Felistas Murata) had social media on overdrive after her nudes were allegedly leaked by her ex-husband in an attempt to humiliate.
However, by disseminating the allegedly obtained videos on social media platforms, members of the public either unintentionally or consciously violate the Cyber Security Act.