New Cyber Crime Bill coming, Media consultations on the cards

Acting Attorney General Stuart Young, says in the coming weeks the Government will be producing its legislative agenda which will include a new Cyber Crime Bill.

Young was responding to a question by on the Cybercrime Bill that was laid in the Parliament in 2014, but did not pass in the House. It eventually lapsed. Though he did not refer to the recent cases of Therese Ho and Nikitha Cornwall by name, the acting Attorney General said government sees Cyber Crime as a broad and predominant topic and as something all need protection against.

Ho, the ex-girlfriend of Trinidad and Tobago Cricketer Lendl Simmons, filed a lawsuit against him for breach of privacy when Simmons leaked photographs of Ho and himself engaging in sexual acts. Justice Frank Seepersad, in a landmark ruling in favour of Ho, slammed the law saying it is failing to protect citizens in the internet and social media age.

Cornwall, however, alleges that on taking her mobile phone to be repaired, intimate photographs of her were lifted from the phone and then distributed without her consent. The issue then morphed into a full-fledged war of words on her Facebook page. She has since threatened legal action.

Meanwhile, Young says when the previous bill was laid he noted concerns by the Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago (MATT), and now Government would like to have a consultations as the legislation is being drafted. 

Earlier this year MATT released a statement that said "Particularly worrisome to Matt are those aspects of the bill that infringe on journalists’ freedom to gather and report information. The bill threatens to criminalise and imprison journalists who report on documents obtained from whistleblowers and to undermine the ethical obligation of journalists to protect the identities of confidential sources. This challenges the constitutionally enshrined rights of press freedom and the public’s right to free expression, key pillars on which our democracy stands."

There were several clauses that were cause for concern MATT said, that take direct aim at the core professional activities of both journalists and civil society interests, including clauses 9 and 13 threatening to criminalise and stifle whistleblowers and members of the public who gain access to, receive, or share computer data from another person with the knowledge that person obtained the data without authorisation.

Penalties proposed ranged from $200,000 and three years imprisonment to $500,000 and five years imprisonment.

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