The South African National Assembly on Tuesday passed the Cybercrimes Bill in a bid to curb the increase in cybercrimes…

The general purpose of the Cybercrimes Bill is to criminalise the distribution of data messages which are harmful, parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said.

The bill provides for interim protection orders in cybercrime cases and seeks to regulate the powers to investigate cybercrimes, said Mothapo.

When tabling the bill last year, the Department of Justice and Correctional Service said the bill aimed to stop cybercrime and improve the country’s security.

The bill was first initiated in August 2015, updated in January 2017 and was introduced in Parliament in February 2017. There were extensive comments on the bill during public hearings, and particularly on onerous aspects of the bill. Those comments were considered and incorporated into the latest version of the bill that was published in October 2018.

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The enacted bill creates many new offences in relation to data, messages, computers, and networks such as hacking, unlawful interception of data, ransomware, cyber forgery and uttering, or cyber extortion.

1-15 years in prison

Under the bill, if somebody is convicted of a cybercrime, he or she could spend between one year to 15 years in prison, depending on the cybercrime.

The bill gives the courts jurisdiction to try these offences in some cases where there is uncertainty. It also enables the Minister of Justice and Correctional Service to make regulations on information sharing, including sharing information on cybersecurity incidents, detecting, preventing and investigating cybercrimes.

South Africa has the third highest number of cyber crime victims worldwide, resulting in a loss of about 2.2 billion rand (about 159 million U.S. dollars) each year to cyber attacks, according to the South African Banking Risk Information Center (SABRIC).

This means that every time a user logs onto his or her smartphone, computer or opens an email, he or she is at risk of being exposed to cyber crime, the SABRIC said in a report released earlier this year.

Globally, 978 million consumers were affected by cyber crime in 2017, with a total of 172 billion dollars stolen, cyber security firm Norton said in its latest report.

Author: ANA Newswire