Deciphering The New Cybercrimes Act 19 Of 2020 | Legal Articles

 

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Deciphering The New Cybercrimes Act 19 Of 2020

There is no doubt that the use of the internet and technology is fast growing in many parts of the world. While this does not make it on the news in the developed world, internet use penetration is fast growing even in the most remote of areas in the developing countries.

With benefits of these advances abound for all to see, so are the challenges and risks that come with it. The internet space is not the safest of places anymore, if ever it was at any point since its dawn. The collection of data and what it is used for has been of much talk in the past decade and governments have pushed technology companies to upscale their privacy policies e.g GDPR in Europe. It remains however, that the use of the internet, computer and mobile technology is consensual. Users make the decision to use it and allow the collection of their personal data in order to gain access into the technology for personal use and benefit. It follows therefore that such consent lends acceptance to the risks that come with it i.e scams, cybercrimes, cyber bullying and harassment.

The Cybercrimes Act 19 of 2020 (the Act) was promulgated to upscale security on the cyberspace, by codifying a set of offences e.g cyber fraud, unlawful interception of data and cyber extortion. It ought to be appreciated that these crimes are committed by use of computer systems, programmes or interference with data or a data storage medium. As an example, cyber fraud retains the same definition as with Common law fraud except that cyber fraud has to, as per section 8 (a) and (b) of the Act, be done by means of data or a computer system, or through interference with data or a computer program, or a data storage medium. Deletion or alteration of data or a computer programme unlawfully, may also fall within the purview of cyber fraud in terms of the Act.

Some internet users have fallen victim to criminal operations whereby a ransom is demanded and upon failure to pay, graphic material allegedly belonging to the victim will be published. The other operations demand a ransom in return for restoration of control or access to emails or computer systems; this too amounts to cyber fraud as envisaged by the Cybercrimes Act 19 of 2020, though it essentially is cyber extortion as well.

The Act places an obligation on service providers involved in electronic communications and financial institutions to report in assisting cybercrime investigations, as per Section 54. Further, not only are they required to alert law enforcement if they have reason to believe that their systems or networks have been used to commit crime, they are also required to retain and avail such evidence if called upon to do so by law enforcement investigators. Failure to do so by electronic communications service providers (ECSPs) and financial institutions, amounts to an offence attracting imprisonment or a fine depending on the circumstances. It therefore amplifies the obligation placed on these ECSPs and financial institutions by the Act. It calls on a need for them to also ensure that their systems are protected as far as possible to avoid the hijacking of their systems in the commission of cybercrimes. 

We are available to assist organisations with regards to their rights and obligations in terms of the Cybercrimes Act of 2020. We also assist in a wide array of other legal matters as outlined on our interactive website.

Contact us for comprehensive assistance.

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