By Fawzia Khan, Fawzia Kahn and Associates
The issue of cyber bullying which was featured in a local Sunday newspaper on 30 August 2015, gave a harrowing and chilling account of a Durban school going teenager’s nightmare, who was bullied by an unknown person on Facebook and other social media network platforms. The teenager was humiliated and degraded by the incessant defamatory messages, which were circulating around these social platforms.
Cyber bullying is a crime and cybercrime is any crime, which involves the use of some electronic equipment or device. Cybercrime and cyber security has now come under the spotlight with the passing of the Cybercrimes and Cyber Security Bill 2015. Currently there are a number of laws dealing with cyber security, which is a mix of both legislation and the common law. The Bill seeks to regulate many of the crimes committed in cyberspace. These include ‘phishing’, hacking, unlawful interception of data, unlawful interference of data, unlawful acts of malware (such as viruses, worms, logic bombs and trojan horses), the unlawful acquisition, possession, provision, receipt or use of passwords, access codes or similar data or devices. Malware have different effects on data, computer devices, computer networks, databases or electronic communications networks.
Many if not virtually all Internet users and holders of email addresses have at some time or the other encountered phishing in some form or the other. It’s usually a dodgy email telling us we have won millions or asking us to “update” our personal details by inviting us to go to a specific website to do so. Hacking is another cybercrime. This is where someone unlawfully accesses electronic information. According to the Juta Law website, computer-related fraud is one of the most prevalent crimes on the Internet. As in all cyber-related crime, there is a slim chance of catching the perpetrator. The perpetrator can further use various tools to mask his or her identity. Automation enables offenders to make large profits from a number of small acts.
One strategy used by offenders is to ensure that each victim‘s financial loss is below a certain limit. Small-loss-victims are less likely to invest time and energy to report such incidents to the South African Police Service and the law enforcement agencies do not have the capacity to investigate all cyber related offences but usually prioritize them according to seriousness. The protected legal interest in crimes against the confidentiality, integrity and availability of computer data and systems is the integrity of computer information and data itself.
Some common forms of computer related fraud are online auction fraud, where the perpetrator offers non-existent goods for sale and request buyers to pay prior to delivery, or where goods are bought online and where delivery is requested without the intention to pay; or advanced fee fraud, where offenders send out e-mails asking for recipients‘ help in transferring large amounts of money to third parties and promising them a percentage, if they agree to process the transfer using their personal accounts. The offenders then ask them to transfer a small amount to validate their bank account data, which the offender takes. On the issue of money laundering, the Bill seeks to regulate the transfer of money across countries. The establishment of online casinos has created opportunities for money laundering activities to go undetected. The Bill hopes to overcome that problem.
Copyright infringement also forms part of the Bill. Songs, e-books, files etc., which are protected by copyright, would not be allowed to be downloaded and copied. Civil society is allowed to comment on the Cybercrimes and Cyber Security Bill 2015 and later once passed, the Bill will then become law.
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