Reminder: These WhatsApp messages and Facebook posts can land you in jail

President Cyril Ramaphosa has signed the Cybercrimes Bill into law, with parts of the bill taking effect from 1 December 2021.

The proclamation comes after Ramaphosa signed the Cybercrimes Act into law at the start of June. This means that the Act is now enforceable, says legal firm Werksmans Attorneys.

The firm noted that the following cybercrimes, among others, will as of 1 December 2021 be punishable by fine or imprisonment:

Messages 

The Act also introduces the criminalisation of certain offences which are described as malicious communications in the Cybercrimes Act, including:

“By definition, the above acts can be carried out by way of social media communication such as WhatsApp or any other social media platform. This is because WhatsApp or other social media communications fall within the definition of ‘data’ and ‘data message’ as set out in the Act,” said Werksmans Attorneys.

“South African citizens are now afforded the legislative means to protect themselves against a new form of criminal activity which previously escaped prosecution. Also, South Africa now joins the rest of the world in having enacted similar legislation to deal with online-based offences.”

The firm said that the now operational Cybercrimes Act will also help the increasingly sophisticated and novel forms of crimes committed via online means.

“What remains to be seen is how our law enforcement and court system will deal with and give effect to this powerful piece of legislation.”


Read: This country has banned work messages after hours – here’s what South Africa’s laws say


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