Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Senator concerned about removing sections of E-Crimes Bill

By Linda Straker

Senator Sheldon Scott, Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Youth, is of the opinion that some of those persons who are calling for the removal of Section Six of the Electronic Crimes legislation will within the coming months demand that Government take action for vulnerable citizens who will become victims of cyberbullying.

“I am certain that in the coming months, some of the very people who are saying to remove the section and we have complied as Government, they will be calling on us to take action to protect young people who will fall victims to cyberbullying,” Scott told the Senate in his wrap-up debate on the Bill last Friday.
Senator Sheldon Scott, Parliamentary
Secretary in the Ministry of Youth.

Scott, who presented the amended legislation to the Upper House of Parliament, said that Government was taking the action because of concerns highlighted by the media fraternity and the implications it could have on their jobs.

“Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell had given a commitment to remove the section and we do that today,” said Scott, who is of the opinion that sub-section B of the legislation should not be removed.
Section Six of the Electronic Crimes Bill made it an offence to send offensive messages through communication services, etc. It says a person shall not knowingly or without lawful excuse or justification send by means of an electronic system or an electronic device:

(a) Information that is grossly offensive or has a menacing character;

(b) Information which he or she knows to be false, but for the purpose of causing annoyance,
inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred or ill will, persistently by making use of such electronic system or a electronic device; or

(c) Electronic mail or an electronic message for the purpose of causing annoyance or inconvenience or to deceive or to mislead the addressee or recipient about the origin of such messages.

The legislation further explained that for the purpose of this section, the term “electronic mail” or “electronic message” means a message or information created or transmitted or received on an electronic system or electronic device including attachments in text, images, audio, video and any other electronic record which may be transmitted with the message.

A person who contravenes subsection 1 commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding one hundred thousand dollars or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding one year or to both.

“I am 1 000% sure within five years they will be calling on us to get modernised and so on,” said Scott, who feels that Section B provided some level of protection to vulnerable and unfortunate persons, in particular teenagers.

The amendments to the Electronic Crimes Bill have received approval from both the Lower and Upper Houses of Parliament and the next step is for it to be gazetted with the consent stamp of approval from the Governor General with a date of effect.

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