After applying a number of amendments to it, the new Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill was adopted by Parliament’s Justice Committee early in November.
The new bill aims to align South Africa’s cyber laws with that of other countries in order to try and combat cybercrime. It does this by outlining new legislation pertaining to the theft and interference of data, but also includes laws surrounding any communication that is deemed “malicious”.
The consequences of contravening any of the new proposed laws are, to say the least, quite harsh, and although the wording of the laws has been deemed vague by some, it is worth knowing exactly what the new bill says.
Take note that the new law applies to any type of electronic communication, including messages and posts on messaging and social media platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook.
BusinessTech has outlined the new crimes and their proposed punishment in an article about the Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill.
“Any person who contravenes one of the following provisions is liable on conviction to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding three years, or to both a fine and imprisonment.
A message which incites damage to property or violence
Any person who unlawfully makes available, broadcasts or distributes by means of a computer system, a data message to a person, group of persons or the general public with the intention to incite:
(a) the causing of any damage to property belonging to; or
(b) violence against, a person or a group of persons.
It further clarifies that ‘violence’ means any bodily harm, while ‘damage to property’ means damage to any corporeal or incorporeal property.
A message which threatens persons with damage to property or violence
As an extension of the above, the Bill also makes it an offence to distribute messages which threatens a group of people with violence, or with damage to their property.
The Bill clarifies that ‘group of persons’ means characteristics that identify an individual as a member of a group,
These characteristics include without limitation:
• Marital status;
• Ethnic or social origin;
• Sexual orientation;
• Birth and nationality.
A message which unlawfully contains an intimate image
Any person who sends a message containing an intimate image of a person without their consent is guilty of an offence.
The Bill describes an ‘intimate image’ as both real and simulated messages which show the person as nude or display his or her genital organs or anal region.
This includes instances where the person is identifiable through descriptions in the message or from other information displayed in the data message.
It also notes that the message is an offence if the person is female and her covered genitals or breasts are displayed in a manner that violates or offends her sexual integrity or dignity.”
To read the full text of the new Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill, click here.