Bill tackles cybercrimes

2017-04-05 06:03

Question:

I receive at least ten fake emails and SMSs per day telling me I have won or entered some competition or can claim some reward.

It seems to get worse and it is just a matter of time before I get caught in some scam and then I will not even know who to turn to for help.

Answer:

To date, our legal framework regulating cybercrimes has consisted of various pieces of legislation, as well as our common law.

Such fall short of effectively regulating cybercrime, necessitating the need for a consolidated framework to address cybersecurity and criminalise cybercrimes.

The proposed Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill (Cybercrimes Bill) has been introduced to assist in providing such a framework for combatting computer-related crimes and improving the cybersecurity of South African citizens.

The Cybercrimes Bill will have broad consequences for:

  • persons who use a compu-ter or the internet;) electronic communications and financial service providers;) suppliers of IT hardware tools and software;) representatives of government departments;) information security experts;) the South African Police Service (SAPS); and) people who are involved with IT regulatory compliance.

It creates approximately 50 new offences which have a bearing on cybercrimes, such as hacking, unlawful interception or interference with data, cyberextortion, cyberforgery, using financial information to commit an offence, the distribution of data messages that are harmful, and computer-related offences that relate to terrorist activities.

These crimes are pervasive and may have substantial implications for persons or businesses providing services in this domain, particularly as penalties range from fines to imprisonment of up to 15 years or both.

The bill also confers extensive powers on the SAPS to combat cybercrimes and promote cybersecurity.

It further places obligations on electronic communications service providers and financial institutions who become aware that their electronic communications network are being used to commit a cybercrime, to immediately report such to the National Cybercrime Centre, a specialised unit to be established in terms of the Cybercrimes Bill, and to preserve any information that relates to the cybercrime in question.
– Esmarie Cronjé, associate, Phatshoane Henney Attorneys

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