The incoming Cybercrimes Bill was recently opened to members of the public for comment.
This latest version of the Bill, passed by the National Assembly in November 2018, cuts out the controversial cybersecurity section present in previous versions.
Fatima Ameer-Mia, a senior associate at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, told BusinessTech that the Bill will now focus on:
- Jurisdiction of the courts
- Powers of investigation, search, seizure and access
- Evidence gathering
- The establishment of a designated point of contact
- The reporting of obligations and penalties
Those who transgress these laws could face up to 15 years in prison, or both a fine and imprisonment.
The role of networks
As part of the Bill, local Internet service providers and networks would have to report any offences committed under this Bill to SAPS within 72 hours of becoming aware of such an offense taking place on their networks. This includes online piracy by users.
Additionally, these networks will need to preserve any evidence related to an offense.
To find out how this will affect their operations, MyBroadband contacted South Africa’s leading providers to get their view on the Bill.
MTN’s executive of corporate affairs Jacqui O’Sullivan said that the Bill will not affect MTN’s internal processes.
She added that MTN welcomes the Cybercrimes Bill and that it will “effectively criminalise all forms of cybercrime”.
“The Bill will effectively aide law enforcement and the National Prosecuting Authority to prosecute offenders, and victims will have adequate recourse in terms of the classification of various types of cybercrimes that have been committed,” said O’Sullivan.
According to a Vodacom spokesperson, the company is still reviewing the updated Bill and will provide detailed statement in due course.
However, Vodacom’s initial response is positive regarding the battle against cybercrime.
“In general, we are satisfied that the industry is moving in the right direction to fight cybercrime,” said Vodacom.
Vodacom said that it was part of the consultation process for the cybercrimes Bill, along with other ICT industry players.
Rain CMO Khaya Dlanga said that while there have been contrasting views to date, Rain is in support of the aims and objectives intended to be achieved by the Bill.
“As a good corporate citizen, we will endeavour to comply, notwithstanding the significant effort and cost involved,” added Dlanga.
He said that Rain has not yet determined the extent of the impact of the Bill on its internal processes.
Liquid Telecom highlighted that the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development engaged with the ICT industry before the Bill was introduced in parliament.
“This has resulted in the reporting obligations being proportional and reasonable, given the challenges faced by growing cybercrime,” said Liquid Telecom.
“Liquid Telecom currently has collaborative engagements with law enforcement agencies and we expect that formalising these processes in the manner contemplated in the Bill will be positive.”
It added that by removing the cybersecurity elements from the Bill, the department delivered a “streamlined and focused piece of legislation with very few areas of contention”.
“All parties have a role to play in dealing with cybercrime and the Bill provides a rational and reasonable spread of responsibilities across all role players, including connectivity providers, law enforcement, and users,” said Liquid Telecom.
Telkom said: “We are currently studying the latest iteration of the Bill and will submit our written comments to parliament.”
Internet Solutions said that in its current form, the Bill would force it to employ additional personnel to fulfill its new obligations.
Internet Solutions also argued that the Bill is unreasonable because it “does not define at what stage the electronic communications service provider or financial institution should be deemed as having been made aware of the offence”.
Additionally, it said that electronic communications service providers are regarded as “mere conduits of information” in terms of sections 73 and 78 of the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act.
“As such, it is important the Bill is aligned with the already existing legislative framework by upholding the neutrality of electronic communications service providers.”