South Africans have just a few more days to air their views on the 2017 version of the Cybercrimes Bill. The Bill was designed to eradicate various cyber offences such as cyberbullying and hacking. The problem however, is that if this Bill is passed, we could all essentially end up behind bars. This is why…
Privacy? Say What?
The 139 page Cybercrimes Bill was first published in 2015, but has since been reviewed this year. “The previous version of this bill, which was introduced in 2015, had clauses from the Secrecy Bill inserted into the Cyber Bill with harsher penalties. After public comment, those sections from the Secrecy Bill were removed in the current version of the Cyber Bill,” explains Michalsons Legal Practice’s Lisa Emma-Iwuoha.
Although the idea of this Bill is good, there are so many negative effects that it could have on the everyday person. Essentially, your day-to-day online habits could provide you with the ‘cyber criminal’ label. The aim of the Cybercrimes Bill is to ensure that every internet user is safe as well as reduce cybercrime and cyber bullying.
According to the Right2Know’s Murray Hunter, “The problem is the Bill tries mainly to protect your privacy from online criminals. But it doesn’t do enough to protect your privacy from the government itself. We do need to be aware of laws, like the Cybercrimes Bill and the RICA law, which are meant to protect our privacy and really don’t!”
How Would This Negatively Affect You?
Anyone and everyone would be affected by this Bill if it is passed in its current state. It doesn’t matter whether you are a big corporate organisation or an individual engaging in daily social media conversations.
This will affect you!
Emma-Iwuoha mentions that the Bill is so broad, the average person would not be aware of the implications if they were to use the internet.
“Because it is drafted very broadly, there is a possibility that there would be unintended effects as a result. This is a big issue and could affect anyone, especially if they are not aware that they are committing a cybercrime in terms of the Bill,” adds Emma-Iwuoha.
This Could Land You In Trouble…
There are a number of online activities that would be classified as a cyber crime. These crimes could amount in a hefty fine or even several years imprisonment.
Here is a list of criminal offences according to the Bill:
- Unlawful interception of data;
- Cyber forgery and uttering; or
- Cyber extortion.
You might have just read them and thought that you don’t partake in any of these activities. Well, think again.
Here are some of the criminal offenses broken down into layman’s terms.
- Section 17 of the Bill states that it is a criminal offense to send “malicious communication” or circulate any messages that might be viewed as harmful. This aims at regulating messages and comments on social media.
- Section 17(2)(c) confirms that any messages or comments that “intimidates, encourages or harasses” a person will be charged. This is otherwise know as cyber bullying. No more social media commentary to any political or public figure may be permitted. This hinders a persons right to freedom of speech.
- “Fake news” is also a criminal act that could land you in serious hot water. If so much as you circulate the news, you will have to face the court of law. Journalists are not allowed to even report on the incident. If they do, they will also face criminal charges.
- Do not resend messages. If you resend any message that you are not the author of, this is also considered a crime. Even if it is a broadcast message of sorts.
Yup, a pretty scary situation. At this rate, murders and rapists will be walking the streets while we finds ourselves in the “chook”.
All because of a Tweet or some information you originally heard somewhere that you want to share with friends and family.
What Can You Do?
You have until August 10 to make your thoughts heard. The Right2Know campaign has created a petition where you can air your views.
If you want to find out more about this Bill before you sign the petition, Michalsons Legal Practice is also offering various workshops for anyone who wants to learn more about the Bill and how it could affect them and their business.
This Bill will give the police extensive power to investigate just about anything. Although the Bill aims to protect internet users from cybercrimes, how much privacy will we actually be dealt?
If you find yourself constantly chatting on Whatsapp or taking part in social media banter- best you find yourself another hobby right about now!