Latest update March 24th, 2023 12:59 AM
Jul 22, 2018 News
Former Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Dr. Frank Anthony, has expressed the view that the Cybercrime Bill passed Friday evening in the National Assembly should have included a clause on how Guyana will work with the international community.
During the debate of the Bill, the Opposition MP while supporting the need for cybercrime legislation outlined that the Bill contained several standard provisions that can be found in any Cybercrime Act around the world. He noted that most of its provisions have their genesis in the 2001 Budapest Convention on Cybercrime.
The Convention’s primary goal is to establish a “common criminal policy”, to better combat computer-related crimes worldwide through harmonising national legislation, enhancing law enforcement and judicial capabilities, and improving international cooperation.
Dr. Anthony said comparing the two legal instruments, he found that the Coalition Government borrowed most of the provisions from the Budapest Convention.
According to Dr. Anthony, ‘the Government to its discredit’ has made two fundamental changes. Firstly, they dropped the section dealing with international cooperation and secondly, they added the section dealing with sedition.
He explained that the Budapest Convention speaks to international cooperation and collaboration.
Dr. Anthony noted that Guyana unfortunately has not joined the Convention, and the Bill does not make provision to partner with other international agencies to deal with multi-jurisdictional issues for some cybercrimes.
“So in effect, we are still handicapped in investigating some of these crimes, that might emanate from outside of Guyana. Or where our computer systems might have been used as a routing point to commit crime in another jurisdiction. This deficiency ought to be corrected,” Dr. Anthony outlined.
He pointed out that the interconnectivity of the internet has made it possible to seamlessly pass through borders without a visa, almost instantaneously. This advantage of the internet, he shared, is one of its most significant vulnerability.
Dr. Anthony pointed to the 1994 internet bank robbery carried out by Vladimir Levin, from his apartment in Russia. Levin was accused of hacking the accounts of several of Citibank’s corporate customers in New York and making off with $10.7M.
He moved the monies to accomplices around the world, including Finland, the US, Netherlands, Germany and Israel.
“The big question was who had jurisdiction in this matter? Which one of the countries? Or is it all the countries? If there is no collaboration, how would these matters be adequately investigated?” Dr. Anthony questioned.
The strengths of the Bill Dr. Anthony noted that it protects against fraud and forgery, child pornography, copyright infringements and security breaches such as hacking and illegal data interception.
However, Dr. Anthony expressed concerns about the entire Clause 18, which deals with crimes against the state, expressiving the view that the Government could use it to censor free speech.
“There is no doubt that the government must be aware of the powers of social media to bring geopolitical change. Citizens’ expressions on social media and other online outlets are now part of 21st-Century democracy. Instead of behaving like troglodytes, we must embrace the citizen’s social media expressions as part of the vibrancy of our democratic culture. This Section 18 has no place in a modern democratic Guyana,” Anthony declared.
The Bill has been subject of widespread debate, especially with the inclusion of Sedition as an offence in under Clause 18. The Government deleted the sedition Clause through amendments before the passage of the Bill. It will now go before President David Granger for his assent.
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