Cyber-bullying has had some serious effects on victims in the past and tragically the individuals responsible walk away without consequence. Legally and financially, it is hard to serve justice on these wrong-doers.
This has been especially unfortunate as the victims have suffered severe online harassment, ridicule and, in some instances, victims have even taken their own lives to escape the misery.
It is with great pleasure that in mid-November the Cybercrime and Cybersecurity Bill was officially passed and malicious communication was criminalised. New communication rules prohibit people from sending certain messages, even if they are private.
The Bill aims to bring South Africa in line with the cyberlaws of other countries as well as guard against the ever-increasing threat of cybercrime.
The Bill has a primary focus on criminalising the theft and interference of data; however, it introduces new laws around any malicious electronic communication as well so that those responsible can finally answer for their crimes.
The Bill makes provisions for the following:
- It incites the causing of any damage to property belonging to, or violence against, a person or a group of persons.
- It intimidates, encourages or harasses a person to harm him 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, for example nudity, and is distributed without the consent of the person involved.
The Bill further compels banks, ISP’s and cellular companies to assist with an investigation, which will allow government to access any pertinent private information stored on you as evidence.
With that in perspective, what retribution lies ahead for those who overstep the rules? It seems the courts are not taking this lightly. Any of the above situations could result in a jail sentence of up to three years and/or a steep fine.
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