JIS News

The Cybercrimes Act, with sanctions for the misuse of computer systems or data and to facilitate investigation and prosecution of such crimes, was passed on Friday (December18) in the Senate.
Leader of Government Business and Attorney General, Senator the Hon. Dorothy Lightbourne, explained that the Act provides criminal sanctions for unauthorised access to and use of computer systems and data and for crimes which are facilitated by the misuse.
“As we all know, many in the business community have been calling for this Bill for some time,” Senator Lightbourne, who was piloting the Bill, said.
She also noted that individuals, businesses and Governments around the world, now use the internet as the primary medium for communication and for the delivery of Government services, finance, commerce, health care and education. However, with the advances in technology and telecommunication have come new opportunities for person’s intent on engaging in crime.
“We have seen the emergence of new varieties of crime, such as identity theft and new ways of carrying out fraud and other activities, such as hacker intrusion, where individuals invade the computer and data storage facilities of others from remote locations,” Senator Lightbourne said.
“They receive the creation of computer viruses designed to destabilise computer systems and networks, which are critical to businesses and Governments and also this has emerged as a major type of cyber crime,” she added.
The Cybercrimes Bill also addresses willful unauthorised obstruction of the operation of a computer, denial of access to a programme or data, as well as the Interception of Communications, Mutual Assistance (Criminal Matters) and Proceeds of Crime Acts.
In terms of sanctions, a person who knowingly obtains unauthorised access to any programme or data held in a computer is liable, upon conviction, of a fine not exceeding $2 million, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years, or to both.
A person who does any act or breach which that person knows is likely to cause unauthorised modification of the contents of any computer, commits an offence and is liable, upon conviction, to a fine not exceeding $2 million or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years, or to both.
Government Senator Thomas Tavares-Finson noted that the legislation was overdue.
“It is necessary to indicate to persons who deal with Jamaica on a daily basis internationally and, indeed, to send a message to business persons here in Jamaica, that we are serious about creating an environment where business can be conducted efficiently and securely,” he said.
Opposition Senator Mark Golding noted that the Bill did not address the issue of Spam, otherwise called unsolicited marketing activities, via the use of the internet. But, Senator Tavares Finson noted that Spam is addressed in Section 29 (1) of the Electronic Transactions Act, 2006.
“So that quite serious concern is addressed in a separate legislation,” Senator Tavares Finson explained.
The Cybercrimes Bill was passed with six amendments. Provision was made for the Act to be reviewed every two years.