Attorney General Dale Marshall has hailed the Cybercrime Bill 2023 as the next logical step in tackling cybercrime in Barbados.
Marshall made this point during yesterday morning’s discussion of the Cybercrime Bill 2023 in the opening session of the House of Assembly. The Bill was subsequently passed later in the day as the Cybercrime Bill 2024.
The Cybercrime Bill 2024 will provide for the combatting of cybercrime and the protection of legitimate interests in the use and development of information technologies. It will also allow the facilitation of international co-operation in computer related crimes and related matters such as cyberbullying, malicious communications and child grooming. Penalties for such crimes are $70 000, seven years imprisonment or both for the first two crimes and a $100 000 fine, ten years of imprisonment or both. In the instance that the child groomer cooperates, they would receive a $250 000 fine.
“This Bill is about protecting individuals in our society who simply have no capacity to help themselves in this way,” the Attorney General explained. “ It isn’t rocket science. It is the same way we do it in other spheres of Barbadian life. We have legislation that deals with assaults, trespassing and all kinds of interferences and human activity. This is not a new frontier, we already have legislation that deals with it (cybercrime). What we are doing is modernising this legislation because for the first time in our system of law we are dealing with cyberbullying and grooming. We are looking at all of the pernicious sides of this where people are using social media to torment people or groom them into improper conduct and we are saying those things are wrong.”
Whilst adding that the Bill does not protect politicians from public criticism, the 61-year-old assured Barbadians that they would have crossed the line if they ever publish or share material digitally that is false, inaccurate and or harmful to another individual or individuals.
He added: “This is a proud moment for Barbados. Nobody has alleged that the 2005 act (Computer Misuse) was about stifling expression but we’ve brought something new and more comprehensive and they are making those allegations now. I am more than satisfied with the content of this Bill. The rights of individuals remain protected and I remind you that in every case the state has the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Minister of Industry, Innovation and Trade Marsha Caddle revealed last week in the House of Assembly that the Law Reform Commission had accepted assistance from the Council of Europe’s Convention of Cybercrime known as the Budapest Convention. That decision was taken in order to modernise the Computer Misuse Act 2005 which was ruled by the Commission to be woefully inadequate for 2024 and beyond.
Marshall informed the House of Assembly that the Budapest Convention, which is the only binding international instrument relating to cybercrime, informed the Barbadian Government that the island now had the finest legislation on cybercrime anywhere in the Caribbean.
The Mutual Assistance In Criminal Matters Bill 2023 was also passed yesterday morning. That Act defines legal assistance as the following:
- Identifying and locating persons and objects;
- Taking evidence or statements from persons;
- Obtaining the production of judicial or other documents;
- Serving judicial documents;
- Examining objects, sites and premises;
- Providing any available information and relevant exhibits;
- Providing originals or certified copies of any documents and records;
- Facilitating the personal appearances of witnesses;
- Effecting a temporary transfer of persons in custody to appear as witnesses;
- Executing searches and seizures
- Tracing, seizing, freezing and confiscating the proceeds or instrumentalities of crime; and
- Providing other assistance consistent with the objects of this Treaty as agreed to by the States Parties.