banner_9.jpg
banner_274.jpg
Home » News » General » 1000 likes, 1000 comments equals P100 000 fine

1000 likes, 1000 comments equals P100 000 fine

Publishing Date : 30 October, 2017

Author : AUBREY LUTE

Had Phagenyane Phage made his tribalistic “joke” by means of a computer or computer system a few months from now, he would have attracted the wrath of clause 22 under the proposed Cybercrime and Computer related Crimes Act and would be facing a possible two years in prison and a P40 000 fine!


This is how serious Minister of Justice Defence and Security, Shaw Kgathi’s proposed law looks from plain view. The only difference is that the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) activist made the controversial statement at a political rally – the price he is paying now is rebuke and ridicule. He would probably escape because he is not on social media, especially facebook. The specific clause reads: “A person who, by means of a computer or a computer system, insults another person on the basis of race, colour, descent, nationality, ethnic origin, tribe or religion commits an offence and is liable to a fine not exceeding P40 000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or to both.”


Mr Shine Namane of Lentswe La Batswapong through a statement in part expressed thus: “The specific utterances were “… ko ga Mmangwato ha go thokafete kgosi, ha gonwe re hira Motswapong gore atle go lela, a bidikame go dira bohutsana mo lwapeng leo…” We find Mr. Phagenyana’ remarks dehumanising, irresponsible, insensitive, divisive and infringing on the constitution of the Republic of Botswana, especially that they were uttered by a politician who expects Batswapong to vote for him or his party.


We place on record that Batswapong are self-respecting and a dignified community who will not allow themselves to be bought or paraded by anybody or tribe for that matter to create a scenery at anybody’s funeral or event.  We find the utterances in question offensive and toxic to the political landscape, peace and tranquillity of this great country.  It is without doubt that Batswapong have been injured by such utterances.”


Kgathi’s proposed law which looks destined to receive support from across the political divide is going to make life very difficult for a number of social media commentators. In the spirit of this law Phage’s “joke” could be interpreted as ‘Racist xenophobic motivated insult’.  There is general displeasure at Phage’s choice of joke at the Umbrella for Democratic Party (UDC) rally in Molepolole and his party has engaged Lentswe La Batswapong to apologise.


Back to the full might of the Cybercrime and Computer related crimes Act, “A person who, by means of a computer or computer system discloses or publishes a private sexual photograph or film without the consent of the person who appears in the photograph or film, and with the intention of causing that person distress, commits an offence and is liable to a fine not exceeding P40 000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or both. The law captures this behavior as “Revenge Pornography”.  


The proposed law is far reaching, “A person who, by means of a computer or computer system – produces racist or xenophobic material; offers or makes available racist or xenophobic material; and distributes or transmits racist and xenophobic material commits an offence and is liable to a fine not exceeding P40 000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or both.”


The Cybercrime and Computer Related Crime Act also tries to shield children from stalkers; “A person, who by means of a computer or computer system, communicates with a person who is, or who the accused believes is – under the age of 18 years, for purposes of facilitating the commission of the offence of child pornography, or offences of prostitution, rape, or indecent assault under the Penal Code; under the age of 16 years, for purposes of facilitating commission of offences of abduction or kidnapping of that person under the Penal Code; or under the age of 16 years, for purposes of facilitating the commission of the offence of defilement or any sexual offence of that person under the Penal Code, commits an offence and is liable to a fine not exceeding P100 000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years, or both.”  


Interestingly, the proposed law makes it clear that it shall not be a defence to a charge under this clause that the accused believed that “the person he or she was communicating with was at least 16 or 18 years of age, as the case may be, unless the accused took reasonable steps to ascertain the age of the person.”


The Cybercrime law also tackles child pornography. “A person who published child pornography or obscene material relating to children through computer or computer system; produces child pornography or obscene material relating to children for purposes of its publication through a computer or computer system; possess child pornography or obscene material relating to children in a computer or computer system or a computer data storage medium; publishes or causes to be published an advertisement likely to be understood as conveying that the advertiser distributes or shows child pornography or obscene material relating to children through a computer or a computer system, commits an offence and is liable to a fine not exceeding P100 000, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or both.”


Minister Kgathi’s law drafters have crafted what they term, “Offensive electronic communication”. Under this clause they write that, “A person who willfully, maliciously or repeatedly uses electronic communication of an offensive nature to disturb or attempt to disturb the peace, quiet or privacy of any person with no purpose to legitimate communication, whether or not a conversation ensues, commits an offence and is liable to a fine not exceeding P20 000 or to imprisonment of a term not exceeding one year, or both.”


The law is also taking aim at Cyber stalking because it makes it an offence to “willfully, maliciously or repeatedly use electronic communication to harass another person, or make a threat with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear for his or her safety or for the safety of his or her immediate family.” The offence attracts a fine of P20 000 or an imprisonment term not exceeding one year. Cyber harassment is also penalized with perpetrators facing a fine of P10 000 or an imprisonment term of six months or both.


The Cybercrime Act also carries huge fines and long term imprisonment proposal for offences such as cyber fraud (P100 000 or five years imprisonment or both) and cyber extortion (P20 000 or 10 years imprisonment or both). The Act criminalizes unauthorized disclosure of password or access code; damage to a computer or computer system; unlawful interception of data; unlawful possession of devices or data; unauthorized interference with a computer or computer system among other things.


Minister Kgathi’s proposed law is not forgiving to service providers as unlawful disclosure by service providers would attract hefty penalties, “A service provider who, without lawful authority, discloses – that an order under this Act has been made; any act done under an order; or any data collected or recorded under an order, commits an offence and is liable to a minimum fine of P1000 000 but not exceeding P5 000 000.”
Government wants this law to pass in November this year.

Cartoon

Polls

Do you think the closure of BCL will compel SPEDU to double their efforts in creating job opportunities in the Selibe Phikwe?

banner_14.jpg
banner_12.jpg

POPULER BRANDS