St Joseph MP Terrence Deyalsingh yesterday warned that the Cybercrime Bill 2014 will affect the freedom of the media.
Speaking on the debate of the Bill at the Parliament sitting, Deyalsingh said there were provisions in the Bill that will see heavy fines and jail sentences meted out to the media.
He referred to the relevant sections with respect to harassment utilising electronic communication where it is stated a person who uses a computer system to coerce, intimidate or harass another person with intent to cause emotional distress can be fined and jailed.
Deyalsingh said fines and jail terms will also be imposed on a person who uses a computer system to disseminate any information, statements or image knowing the same to be false and who damages the reputation of another, subjects a person to ridicule, contempt, hatred or embarrassment.
He said the same applies to a person who uses a computer system with the intent to extort from another person by threatening to publish computer data, audio recording, video recording containing personal or private information which can cause public ridicule, contempt, hatred or embarrassment .
“This is targeted directly at the media,” said Deyalsingh pointing out that there is a $100,000 fine and three-year jail sentence for these offences.
He added that if there is conviction and indictment there is a $250,000 fine and five year jail term.
Deyalsingh said through these measures, the Government has recriminalised libel.
He questioned whether Facebook bullies will also fall under the provisions of the proposed law.
“Mr PEA especially, a cyber bully if ever there was one, good friend of the Government, apologist of the Government,” he said.
“I want the media to pay attention to section 21 and section 23 to see what this Government is doing because in this state we are not supporting this Bill,” said Deyalsingh.
He said when the Government moved to remove the jail sentence from the criminal libel Bill both he and Opposition MP Colm Imbert had argued against this saying if the jail term is to be removed, then a heavy fine should be implemented.
Deyalsingh said the media were happy with Government’s move.
“The media are happy with the UNC, happy, ecstatic, overflowing with love,” he said.
Deyalsingh also took issue with the prerequisites required for the chairman of the Cyber Security Agency—someone with knowledge and experience of computer networks.
He said former head of the Strategic Intelligence Agency (SIA) Reshmi Ramnarine could qualify for the job because she was a telephone operator with knowledge of computer systems.