Bowen: The necessary changes will be made

Gregory Bowen reminds the nation that it was NDC that introduced the Bill

Gregory Bowen reminds the nation that it was NDC that introduced the Bill

The controversial Electronic Crimes Bill, 2013 was again debated in the Parliament on Wednesday as the world keeps its eyes focused on the outcome that could severely impact social network users.

Leader of Government Businesses in the House of Representatives and Minister with responsibility for Communication and Works, Gregory Bowen addressed the issue during a post-Cabinet press briefing on Tuesday.

According to the senior government minister, his administration would clarify areas in the Bill if needed, as it is not the intention of the authorities to proceed with anything that is distasteful to citizens.

However, Minister Bowen noted that it was the previous National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration of former Prime Minister, Tillman Thomas that introduced the controversial Crime Bill in 2010.

“I want to remind you though that this Bill was drafted many years ago, it was not passed because Parliament was closed …”, he said.

Minister Bowen noted that as part of government’s intention “to go electronic e-governance and e-government” and with Grenada piloting the scheme in the OECS sub-region and with the Inland Revenue Department in the forefront of the initiative, “we had to move speedily to get the Bills in place”.

He told the media that the controversial Bill was drafted by Caribbean experts and is similar to that in other regional states.

“I’m not blaming the last administration, so it was done commonly, but all of us must be aware that if Parliament was open the Bill would have passed”, Bowen said, adding that the Bill was adjusted by the new rulers who removed Clause Eight of the Bill, which dealt with defamation.

“The Attorney General removed certain elements from the draft that he thought would be in the grey area, would have brought in the same comments and problems that we have now received”, he told reporters.

Minister Bowen gave assurances that any area that needs to be clarified would be done as it is not his government’s intention to proceed with anything that is distasteful to citizens.

He stated that while there are many persons who complain about the need to remove that troubling section of the Bill, there are many others who believe that the intent of the drafted legislation is clear and should remain.

He said the intention of the Crime Bill is not to punish innocent bloggers on social networks such as facebook and twitter and that the Bill is not geared at punishing children but specifically to deal with people who post damaging comments maliciously.

Since the news of the passage of the Crime Bill during the sitting of the House of Representatives last month the local, regional and international media have taken a keen interest in the draft legislation.

Section Six of the controversial legislation states, “Sending offensive messages through communication services, etc, is of utmost concern for social network users.

It reads: “A person shall not knowingly or without lawful excuse of justification send by means of an electronic system or an electronic device – information that is grossly offensive or has a menacing character; 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 a electronic device; or 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”.

A person found guilty of sending offensive message through communication service etc who knowingly publishes electronic mail that is grossly offensive or menacing that is false, annoying or unconvincing can be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $100,000.00 or a term of imprisonment not exceeding one year or to both.

If the Bill is passed in the Senate on Wednesday without amendments, the legislation will impact on a large section of the social media network users.




The Crime Bill, 2013, provides for the prevention and punishment of electronic crimes and for related matters was brought to Parliament two weeks after the publishing of phonographic material involving a school student via facebook.

The Bill was tabled by Legal Affairs Minister, Elvin Nimrod, who believes the time has come for people who engage in mischievous behaviour against innocent people online to take responsibility for their actions.

The bill addresses a number of areas and related penalties:-

*Identity theft through the use of electronic signature, if found guilty is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $50,000.00 or a term of imprisonment not exceeding three years or to both.

*Electronic forgery if found liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $100,000.00 or a term of imprisonment not exceeding three years or to both.

*Electronic fraud if found liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $100,000.00 or a term of imprisonment not exceeding three years or to both.

*Violation of privacy, a person can face summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $200,000.00 or a term of imprisonment not exceeding three years or to both.

*Misuse of encryption if found liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $100,000.00 or a term of imprisonment not exceeding three years or to both.

*Child pornography (a person under the age of 18) if found liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $200,000.00 or a term of imprisonment not exceeding five years or to both and in the event of second or subsequent conviction to a fine not exceeding $300,000.00 or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 20 years or to both.

*Sensitive electronic system site if found liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $300,000.00 or a term of imprisonment not exceeding 20 years or to both.

*Electronic terrorism (threatens the unity, security or sovereignty of Grenada or to strike terror in the people or any section of people) if found liable on summary conviction pursuant to the penalties prescribed in the terrorism Act No. 16 of 2012.

*Prank calls to law enforcement if found liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $5,000.00 or a term of imprisonment not exceeding six months or to both.

*Electronic stalking if found liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $100,000.00 or a term of imprisonment not exceeding three years or to both.

*Spoof and Spam (establish a website or send an electronic message with a counterfeit source) if found liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $200,000.00 or a term of imprisonment not exceeding three years or to both.

*Unauthorized access to code if found liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $200,000.00 or a term of imprisonment not exceeding three years or to both.

 

 

 

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