More than 3 years after first being tabled in Parliament, the South African Cybercrimes Bill is finally on the verge of being officially enacted, with the Deputy Minister of Justice acknowledging that even though many cyber crimes are already illegal under other Acts, the current legislation is not advanced enough to keep up with online criminal activity and exploitation.
The Bill lists a variety of actions (including some failures to act) which are defined as cyber crimes, including the unlawful acquisition of data, unlawful acts involving software tools, and specifies things like hacking, blackmail, extortion, online identity theft and revenge porn as punishable by law.
Although, as mentioned, many of these acts are already illegal, the Bill’s codification of the range of cyber crimes will make them easier to prosecute, providing clarity to the legal system when it is faced with unlawful activity of this nature.
The Bill also devotes space to what it refers to as “malicious communications” which can include threatening messages, online bullying and the aforementioned revenge porn.
The Bill also lists appropriate penalties for various cyber crimes, including (but not limited to) up to 15 years imprisonment, as well as imposing certain obligations on financial and data collection institutions.