Sending these WhatsApp messages to your friends could soon get you sent to jail

Think carefully of the messages you share on WhatsApp.
Think carefully of the messages you share on WhatsApp.

You might want to think twice before sending scandalous messages à la the photos and videos of the teacher involved in the previously reported on Bishops school scandal, because these are the kind of messages that could soon land you in jail.

The South African government is looking at reviving the Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill that expired when parliament was dissolved on 7 May 2019.

The aim of the bill is to align South Africa's cybercrimes and related laws with those of other countries.

The bill will also focus on the criminalisation of harmful electronic broadcasts.

Harmful electronic broadcasting messages include:

  • The distribution of a person's nudes or content of them performing sexual acts without their consent.
  • Messages that serve as a threat to a persons health or property.
  • Messages proving that you have incited damage to a persons property.

Also read: 'It is illegal' - former Bishops teacher's lawyer warns against sharing lewd video allegedly of client

Parent24 previously reported that victims of cyber-bullying can go the legal route if people circulate their content without their consent.

They can either lay a charge, sue those sharing the content or get a protection order. Read more on bullying videos and what the SA law says

The bill will have an effect on:

  • Financial Institutions
  • The Police
  • Cybercriminals and terrorists
  • Electronic Communications Service Providers
  • Government Departments
  • Information security experts and IT professionals
  • People that use the internet and cellphones

If the bill does get implemented in South Africa, it could mean that any person found guilty of sending these types of messages could be imprisoned for up to three years, or be liable to pay a fine of up to R150 000, and in some cases it might be both. 

Though the bill has not yet been officially implemented, it would be best to exercise extreme caution regarding what you share on WhatsApp and other social platforms.

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Read more:

Protecting your child against digital dangers

Is your teen internet safety savvy?

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