Things you do online that might land you in cuffs

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President Cyril Ramaphosa has signed the Cybercrimes Bill into law.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has signed the Cybercrimes Bill into law.
Boonchai Wedmakawand

There are a lot of reasons to be careful about what you post or share online. You could lose out on a job opportunity or get fired.

Now what you share on social media platforms, including WhatsApp, could land you in jail after the new Cybercrimes Act was recently signed into law by President Cyril Ramaphosa. 

The Act brings the country's cybersecurity laws in line with the rest of the world.

It criminalizes issues such as cyber fraud, forgery and extortion as well as theft of incorporeal property.

With the new bill, you can also get in trouble for sending certain messages. 

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The bill was first introduced in 2017 and in 2018 it was passed by the National Assembly.

These are some of the cybercrimes that could land you in jail. 

Sending someone's intimate images without consent 

According to the Act, the disclosure of an intimate image is if someone shares a message containing an intimate image of another person without their consent.

The Act describes an intimate image as both real or simulated, which show the person as nude, or display his or her genital organs or anal region.

It also notes that the message is an offence if the person is female, transgender, or intersex and their covered genitals or breasts are displayed in a manner that violates or offends their sexual integrity or dignity.

Even if you can't see the person's face in the image, this offence applies if the message identifies the person in the text or in other information contained in the message.

Incite damage to property or violence

According to the Act, it is a criminal offense to send messages in any online platform with the intention to cause damage to property or to cause violence against a person or a group of persons or the general public.

  • The causing of any damage to property and violence against, a person or a group of person.
  • Threaten people with damage to property or violence

The Cybercrimes Act defines “violence” as bodily harm, and “damage to property” as damage to any corporeal or incorporeal property.

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Threaten a group of people with violence

The Act also makes it an offence to distribute messages that threaten a group of people with violence or with damage to their property.

According to the Cybercrimes Act, any person who violates the act is liable on conviction to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding 15 years, or to both depending on the offence. 

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