- The recommendations were adopted by the members of the Senate during its sitting on Friday, January 31, when the matter was debated.
- There has been an increase in the number of tools and devices which can be used to commit cybercrimes.
- Among the committee’s recommendations is the inclusion of provisions addressing the transmission of threatening emails and/or contact with victims of cybercrimes in chat rooms.
The Joint Select Committee of Parliament, appointed to review the Cybercrimes Act, is recommending increases in fines for several offences which breach the legislation.
The recommendations, contained in a report from the Committee, were adopted by the members of the Senate during its sitting on Friday, January 31, when the matter was debated.
Minister with responsibility for Information, Senator the Hon. Sandrea Falconer, who opened the debate, noted that there has been an increase in the number of tools and devices which can be used to commit cybercrimes.
She also noted that new methods have been devised by unscrupulous persons to commit offences and that, in some instances, new crimes have emerged.
“The Cybercrimes Act was promulgated to criminalise the misuse of computers, computer systems or data to commit crimes and particular offences (targeting) computers,” Senator Falconer said.
The Act’s original provisions also seek to criminalise the abuse of electronic means to complete transactions, and facilitate the investigation and prosecution of cybercrimes.
Among the committee’s recommendations is the inclusion of provisions addressing the transmission of threatening emails and/or contact with victims of cybercrimes in chat rooms.
“Section 3(m) of the Town and Communities Act and Section 18 of the Offences against the Persons Act contain provisions on threats. However these provisions are inadequate and antiquated. In light of this, the committee recommended that provision be made in the Act for all these activities,” the Information Minister explained.
Senator Falconer also pointed out that persons committing computer related fraud or forgery will be liable, on summary conviction before a Resident Magistrate in the case of a first offence, to a maximum fine of $4 million or imprisonment for a term not exceeding four years, or both.
She added that increases in fines have been recommended for the following offences under the Act: unauthorised access and modification, interception or obstruction; access with the intention to commit or facilitate the commission of an offence; unlawfully making available devises or data for the commission of an offence; false statements by persons, required to preserve data; and offences relating to protected computers.
“Section 17 (15) creates the offence of failure by a constable to observe requirements for safeguarding, and Section 17 (17) treats with a failure to comply with the production order,” Senator Falconer said.
For his part, Opposition Senator, Alexander Williams, raised concerns about the low prosecution rate under the Cybercrimes Act.
“I believe it is only four prosecutions that have taken place in relation to the Act. The hope has been expressed that with these amendments we will see increased prosecution under the legislation,” he said.
In his response, Justice Minister, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding, said the investigative capacity of the police force, in relation to the use of technology and activities involving abuse of technology, is “fairly robust.”
“I do not think that it will be beyond them to effectively investigate and prepare cases for prosecution under this Act. There is some track record of cases built up and you will see, increasingly I believe, the use of the legislation,” Senator Golding assured.