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Cybercrimes Act Signed Into Law By Ramaphosa

Social Media

President Cyril Ramaphosa has signed a new bill into law that could see many people face consequences for the messages they share on social media platforms.

The President has officially signed the Cybercrimes Act into law and outlined a set of measures that fall under the ‘Malicious Communications’ section. This could change the way many social media users interact on social media platforms.

Social media can be used to bring people closer together. However, it can also drive them further apart. Just as people can spread love on social media, they can also spread hate.

The Cybercrimes Bill of 2020 aims to create offences which have a bearing on cybercrime; to criminalise the disclosure of data messages which are harmful and to provide for interim protection orders.

The act also intends to further regulate jurisdiction in respect of cybercrimes and to further regulate the powers to investigate cybercrimes.

Emerging threats consultant with the Institute for Security Studies, Karen Allen says the law sets out what the offences are with regards to malicious communication. She explains that social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and others could be used by people intending to do harm. The act will seek to regulate this.

Social media has also been used in South Africa to mobilise protests. This Act has raised concern that the legislation could be used to silence those with opinions who may be unfavourable to the government.

Allen explained that the legislation was framed in a way to ensure that it is human rights compliant. She said while people will be allowed to articulate concerns on social media platforms, it could be a criminal offence if they trample on human rights.

“Perpetrators are much more nimble, much more agile than government regulators and so the real test will be on how this is implemented. What the legislation does do though is it allows for the use of protection orders to protect victims of this type of cyber bullying or revenge porn” said Allen.

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