Jamaica's Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips.
GEORGETOWN – The Cyber Crime Bill was passed late Friday by the National Assembly following several hours of debate, after being piloted by Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams.
The “lame excuses about a lack of consultation, especially with regards to the Opposition not reading and understanding the Cyber Crime Bill” was highlighted by the Attorney General.
He noted that the issues raised about Clause 18 1 A, resulted in a decision being made by the Cabinet to remove it.
He lamented that the Bill was in the Select Committee for almost two years, yet it appeared that the opposing side of the House failed to read the Bill’s contents, hence the move to suddenly highlight several issues of concern.
The minister reminded legislators that in the United Kingdom, sedition was on the books for hundreds of years and any government must take measures to protect itself.
He also reminded Parliament of the case of Mark Benschop and Philip Bynoe – men who were initially charged with sedition after being accused of engaging in treasonous behaviour when they allegedly led a group of protestors on a crashing invasion of the Office of the President’s compound.
The Attorney General said after Bynoe was freed, the then People’s Progress Party (PPP) government moved to charge with Benschop with treason. Benschop, was eventually pardoned after serving five years in solitary confinement.
William’s noted that contrary to the Opposition’s claims, the nation’s youths will be protected, adding that all of the proposed amendments were circulated to all legislators, hence nothing was “slipped” into the legislation unbeknownst to the Opposition.
The penalties are meant to be dissuasive, he further explained and dismissed their contentions as unfounded.
The Cyber Crime Bill has had the benefit of being perused by experts, and even many of the now opposing legislators, the minister further added.
“What is good for the goose must be for the gander,” Williams stated as he also reminded of the “Spy Bill” passed by the then PPP government, which catered for the interception of calls without a warrant, unbeknownst to those being targeted. It was then that the nation realised that the right to privacy was actually removed from the Constitution, he said.
In closing as he commended the Bill, which has forty-three (43) clauses and four (4) amendments, for passage, the Williams reiterated that it will serve as another shield to protect Guyana’s youth from cyber-crimes.
The Cyber Crime Bill covers a wide gamut of offences regarding the use of data, illegal devices, system interference, fraud, child pornography, sedition and using a computer system to coerce, harass, intimidate and humiliate a person. (CMC)