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Cyber crimes, sci-tech bills sent to president for approval

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President Cyril Ramphosa.
President Cyril Ramphosa.

The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) has passed the Cybercrimes Bill, during its sitting on Wednesday.

During the sitting, the NCOP also passed the Science and Technology Laws Amendment Bill.

The Cybercrimes Bill was initially introduced as the Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill in 2017, and was referred to the fifth democratic Parliament’s Select Committee on Security and Justice from the National Assembly on 27 November 2018.

The Bill was advertised for public participation in 2019, where substantive inputs were provided by various stakeholders and individuals.

However, it lapsed at the end of the fifth Parliament and it is among the bills that were revived by the NCOP through a resolution on 17 October 2019.

The objectives of the Bill are, among others, to create offences and impose penalties which have a bearing on cyber crime, to criminalise the distribution of data messages which are harmful and to provide for interim protection orders, and to further regulate jurisdiction in respect of cyber crimes.

The bill also aims to regulate the powers to investigate cybercrimes, to further regulate aspects relating to mutual assistance in respect of the investigation of cybercrimes and to provide for the establishment of a 24/7 Point of Contact.

The Bill further imposes obligations on electronic communications service providers and financial institutions to assist in the investigation of cyber crimes.

It also provides that the executive may enter into agreements with foreign states to promote cyber security.

The Science and Technology Laws Amendment Bill seeks to amend the Scientific Research Council Act of 1988, the Academy of Science of South Africa Act of 2001, the Human Sciences Research Council Act of 2008, the Technology Innovation Agency Act of 2008, and the South African National Space Agency Act of 2008, so as to harmonise the processes for the termination of the membership of Boards or Councils of the entities established by these Acts.

Both bills will be sent to president Cyril Ramaphosa for approval.

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