Sending a message that incites violence, damage to property or even sending an intimate picture of anyone without their consent, could land you a three-year jail term, a hefty fine or both. As reported previously in Legalbrief Policy Watch, the Cyber Crimes and Cyber Securities Bill aims to bring the country’s legislation in line with other countries’ cyber laws and tackle cybercrime. A Cape Argus report quotes ANC Chief Whip Jackson Mthembu as saying the Bill criminalises cyber-facilitated offences by means of fraud, forgery, uttering and extortion, which are prevalent in the cyber-environment. ‘This Bill also addresses issues such as malicious communications. It criminalises a data message which incites the causing of any damage to property belonging to, or violence against a person or group of persons which is harmful or intimate in nature, and which is distributed without consent of the person involved (like revenge pornography),’ he said. The National Assembly adopted the Bill last week but rights groups believe there is existing legislation that can deal with cyber issues. Right2Know organiser Lazola Kati said there was little public participation on the matter. ‘We don’t believe this Bill is necessary because we have the Hate Crimes Bill that deals with similar issues. The government is trying to control what we see and hear in the social media and that is not the way to go.’
Meanwhile, MTN has slammed proposed legislation to regulate infrastructure sharing in the telecoms sector, saying it is unconstitutional, will violate property rights, and discourage investment in the industry. ‘The proposed Bill is a dramatic and radical change to an industry that is critical to economic growth, jobs and bridging the digital divide. To impose blanket cost-based open access on a competitive market is draconian and irrational,’ MTN said in its written submission to Parliament’s Telecommunications and Postal Services Committee. Business Day reports the committee is holding public hearings on the Electronic Communications Amendment Bill. One of the contentious proposals is the establishment of a wireless open-access network, which the government says is aimed at driving down communications costs by facilitating entry of more players. As previously reported in Legalbrief Policywatch, the Bill further proposes that a service provider with ‘significant market power’ – or at least 25% of SA’s network infrastructure – has to share its infrastructure with competitors. According to the Bill, Icasa will prescribe the ‘cost-oriented’ rates service providers can charge their rivals.
And Vodacom has warned that any moves to regulate infrastructure sharing in the telecoms sector will have a devastating effect on the wider economy,including employment and tax income. Business Day reports that Vodacom said it supported the government’s objectives of increasing broadband coverage and promoting affordable broadband and innovation and transformation in the sector. ‘But in our view these objectives can and should be achieved through promoting investment and network competition within the best-practice regulatory framework in the current Act and not through the changes contemplated in the Bill.’ It added there was no pressing need for the Bill, and it should not be rushed through Parliament in its current form. The government should carefully consider the far-reaching and ‘significant adverse implications of the Bill’.