Cybercrimes: Sending These Messages Could Cost You 3 Years in jail


As a way of reducing communication crimes in the country, the South African government has in its Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill, laid out vague new messaging rules which could see offenders find or even taken to jail, even if the message is private.

The parliament would in few weeks, be discussing the new Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill introduced to the country.  The bill was introduced to SA in order to, create offences which has a bearing on cybercrimes and to prescribe penalties  and to criminalise the distribution of data messages which is harmful and to provide for interim protection orders.

If passed into law, the country will stand among other countries fighting cybercrimes as well as the ever-growing threat of cyber crime through its cyber laws.

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The passage of the bill follows growing concern over freedom of speech on the social media which has led to an outburst of racist comments causing a total reawakening of racism in South Africa.

These racial speeches sparked off when Kwazulu-Natal real estate agent Penny Sparrow likened black beach goers to monkeys. It was followed by social media comments by Justin Van Vuuren, Louis Jordaan and Chris Hart.

The state government has however decided to put a final stop to these violence-sparking comments on social media through its new Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill which would finally help it to earnestly cut down crimes on social media like Facebook and WhatApp.

While the majority of the Bill focuses on criminalizing the theft and interference of data, it has also introduced new laws surrounding any ‘malicious’ electronic communication.

Your message could lead you to 3 years jail term and/or a fine if:

  • It incites the causing of any damage to any property belonging to, or violence against, a person or a group of persons;
  • unlawfully and with the intention to defraud makes a misrepresentation to another person
  • It intimidates, encourages or harasses a person to harm himself or herself or any other person;
  • It is inherently false in nature and it is aimed at causing mental, psychological, physical or economic harm to a specific person or a group of persons;
  • It is intimate in nature (aka nudity), and is distributed without the consent of the person involved.

In addition, the Bill compels all banking institutions, ISPs and cellular companies to assist in an investigation – allowing the government to access any pertinent private information stored on you as evidence.

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Meanwhile, deputy minister of justice and constitutional development, John Jeffery has insisted that the new bill is not an extension of government’s surveillance powers but a means of monitoring crime excesses in the country.

“Data is merely a means to commit offences such as fraud, damage of programmes and computer systems, extortion, forgery and uttering. It can also be used to commit murder by remotely switching of a respiratory system or terrorism by overloading the centrifuges of a nuclear station or remotely opening the sluices of a dam which causes large scale flooding,” he said.

You can read more about cybercrimes and cyber security here