Cyber Crime Bill will offer shield of protection for nation’s youths – AG Williams

– Bill passed

DPI, Guyana, Friday, July 20, 2018

The Cyber Crime Bill was just passed this evening by the National Assembly after several hours of strenuous debate, after being piloted by Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams SC.

The “lame excuses about a lack of consultation, especially with regards to the Opposition not reading and understanding the Cyber Crime Bill” was highlighted by the Attorney General. He noted that the issues raised about Clause 18 1 A, resulted in a decision being taken by the Cabinet to remove it. This clause covered sedition. He lamented that the Bill was in the Select Committee for almost two years, yet it appeared that the opposing side of the House failed to read the Bill’s contents, hence the move to suddenly highlight several issues of concern.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams SC.,

The minister reminded that in the United Kingdom, sedition was on the books for hundreds of years and any government must take measures to protect itself. He recalled that Mark Benschop and Philip Bynoe were initially charged with sedition. After Bynoe was freed, the PPP government then moved to charge with Benschop with treason. The latter was eventually pardoned after serving five years in solitary confinement.

Contrary to the Opposition’s claims, the AG said that the nation’s youths will be protected. He said that all of the proposed amendments were circulated to all MPs, hence nothing was “slipped” into the legislation unbeknownst to the Opposition. The penalties are meant to be dissuasive, he further explained and dismissed their contentions as unfounded.

The Cyber Crime Bill has had the benefit of being perused by experts, and even many of the now opposing MPs, the minister further added.
“What is good for the goose must be for the gander,” the AG stated as he also reminded of the “Spy Bill” passed by the then PPP government, which catered for the interception of calls without a warrant, unbeknownst to those being targeted. It was then that the nation realised that the right to privacy was actually removed from the Constitution, he said.

In closing as he commended the Bill, which has forty-three (43) clauses and four (4) amendments, for passage, the AG reiterated that it will serve as another shield to protect Guyana’s youth from cyber-crimes.

The Cyber Crime Bill covers a wide gamut of offences regarding the use of data, illegal devices, system interference, fraud, child pornography, sedition and using a computer system to coerce, harass, intimidate, humiliate, etc. a person.

Punishments range from multiple year jail sentences to fines up to $20 million dollars for those found guilty.

By: Paul McAdam.
Image: Jules Gibson.