Cyberbullying Risk to Teens

Senator Sheldon Scott, Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Youth, opines that the removal of Section 6 of the Electronic Crimes Legislation will, within coming months, demand that government take action on behalf of citizen victims of cyberbullying.

Scott presented the amended legislation to the Upper House of Parliament. He said that government was taking the action because of concerns highlighted by the media fraternity and implications on the their jobs. “Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell had given a commitment to the removal of the section and we do that today.”

During the Senate wrap up debate on the amended Bill last Friday, Scott said, “I am certain that in the coming months, some of the very people who are saying to remove the section and we have comply as government, they will be calling on us to take action to protect young people who will fall victims to cyberbullying.”

Section 6 of the Electronic Crimes Bill made it an offence to send offensive messages through communication services, etc. It says “a person shall not knowingly or without lawful excuse or justification send by means of an electronic system or an electronic device:

(a) information that is grossly offensive or has a menacing character;

(b) information which he or she knows to be false, but for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred or ill will, persistently by making use of such electronic system or an electronic device; or

(c) electronic mail or an electronic message for the purpose of causing annoyance or inconvenience or to deceive or to mislead the addressee or recipient about the origin of such messages.

The legislation further explained that for the purpose of this section, the term “electronic mail” or “electronic message” means a message or information created or transmitted or received on an electronic system or electronic device including attachments in text, images, audio, video and any other electronic record which may be transmitted with the message. A person who contravenes subsection (1) commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding one hundred thousand dollars or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding one year or to both.

“I am 1000% sure within five years they will be calling on us to get modernised and so on,” the Senator said. Scott feels that Section B provided some level of protection to vulnerable persons, in particular teenagers.

The amendments to the Electronic Crimes Bill has received approval from both the lower and upper Houses of Parliament. The next step requires the amendments be published in the Government Gazette with the consent  and stamp of approval  from  the Governor General, with a date of effect.

By Linda Straker

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