On 26 May 2021 President Ramaphosa signed the Cybercrimes Bill into law. The Cybercrimes Bill was first published on 28 August 2015, updated on 19 January 2017 and was introduced in Parliament on 22 February 2017. The Bill went through rigorous rounds of commentary in the public participation phase in 2017. After consideration of these comments, the Bill in its current form was published in 2018.
The Bill was reviewed by the National Council of Provinces in 2019, which requested input from various stakeholders and opened another round of public participation. The Bill was presented to both houses of Parliament and passed in December 2020 and has been waiting for the President’s assent since then. The Bill, now an Act of Parliament, will only come into operation on a date fixed by the President – the commencement date – which has not yet been released.
The focus of the Cybercrimes Act is on criminalising the theft and interference of data in South Africa, bringing South African laws in line with the rest of the world.
The objectives of the Act are to:
- Create offences and impose penalties which have a bearing on cybercrime;
- To criminalise the distribution of data messages which are harmful and to provide for interim protection orders;
- To further regulate jurisdiction in cybercrime.
The Act regulates and empowers authorities to investigate cybercrimes and imposes obligations on service providers and financial institution to cooperate and assist with investigations into cases of cybercrime.
The Cybercrime Act criminalises certain offences, most related to data, messages, computers and networks. E.g.
- Unlawful interception of data;
- Cyber forgery; and
- Cyber extortion.
It will be interesting to watch how the Government will empower its organs of state to fulfil their duties in terms of the Act. For example, the Minister of Police is obliged to establish and maintain:
- a Point of Contact for cyber crimes, and
- the capacity to detect, prevent and investigate cybercrimes.
Both of duties will require costly upgrades to current infrastructure and additional employment of experts.
Until the commencement date of the Act is released we will have to wait for more detailed Regulations and relevant stakeholders’ plans to fulfil their obligations in terms of the Act. The latest version of the Bill can be found here.
Currently, cybercrimes can be reported at any SAPS station. The SAPS website provides a number of tips to avoid falling prey to cybercriminals.
If you require advice on cybercrimes, do not hesitate to contact us.
About the author
Megan started her articles with Dunsters in 2020 and is a graduate of the University of Cape Town (B.COM PPE, LLB). Megan is in the commercial team at Dunsters and enjoys working on drafting all kinds of contracts as may suit our clients’ needs. Her areas of interest lie broadly in the commercial sphere, with a more specialised focus on technology and the law. Megan also writes and oversees the editing of our insights and articles.
In her spare time Megan is Chairperson of the Cape Town Candidate Attorneys’ Association, loves to paint and prefers to spend her weekends outdoors. Cold-water swimming, running and hiking, she is keen on all the outdoor activities Cape Town has to offer.