Sending another person WhatsApp messages, threatening to hurt them, damage their property or posting on any social media platform nudes of another without their consent, all this within a moment of utter rage, can not only cause you to regret your actions, it can also result in a criminal conviction and possible sentence of a fine and/ or imprisonment for a maximum period of 15 years depending on the severity of the offence.
The cybercrimes rate has escalated tremendously over recent times. There are lots of criminal activities taking place in the cyber world e.g., hacking, online harassment, cyber fraud, extortion, and forgery, to name but a few. Recently President, Cyril Ramaphosa signed the Cybercrimes Act into law. The Act seeks to align South African cybersecurity laws with the rest of the world. The objectives of the Cybercrimes Act is to create criminal offenses and impose penalties which have a bearing on cybercrimes and to criminalize the distribution of data messages which are harmful to another. The Act further seeks to provide interim protection orders and to further regulate jurisdiction in respect of cybercrimes.
The Act criminalized three types of harmful data messages namely, messages that incite damage to property or violence. These messages are identified as any person who discloses by means of an electronic communication service a date message to a person, group of persons or public with the intention to incite damage to property or violence. The second offence is to distribute messages that threaten a group of people with violence or damage to their property. This includes the distribution of harmful data messages that violates a person’s dignity and human rights. The third harmful data message are to share a message containing an intimate image of another person without their consent. The Act describes an intimate image as both real and replicated which show the person as nude or display his/ her genitals organs or anal region. Even if you cannot see the person’s face in the image, the offence applies if you can identify the person in the text or any other message related to the image.
COVID-19 global pandemic contributed to our lives being subjected mainly to social media interaction. Therefore, one needs to take careful consideration before you share messages on any social media platform and protect yourself from falling victim to cybercrime or facing possible prosecution of cybercrime.
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