Digital piracy is a cybercrime and everyone pays a price for it. While some seem to try to rationalize that companies make a lot of profit and their “small theft” won’t cause any harm, the truth of the matter is that digital piracy in music, videos, and games costs billions of dollars each year and those expenses are passed on to the consumers. In November, 2018, South Africa took a stand in fighting digital piracy and the jury is still out as to whether the new laws are tough enough.

In the virtual world, there is a fine line between encroaching on privacy and individual rights and freedoms, and theft of intellectual property. The version of the Cybercrimes Bill was passed in Nov. 2018 by the National Assembly and attempted to address some of the areas that the previous bill failed in.

New Requirements

The old bill was mainly made up of two sections: cybersecurity and cybercrimes. The approach for the new bill offers legislation that criminalizes cybercrime in general. One of the most important key changes involves the cybercrime offenses, the powers of investigations, the jurisdictions of the courts; seizure/search/access, the gathering of evidence, the creation of a designated contact point, and reporting obligations as well as penalties.

According to an article in BusinessTech, the jurisdiction clauses are now more extensive, allowing for the courts in South Africa to have “extraterritorial jurisdiction” even when the offense(s) occur outside of South Africa. This is a critical piece of the bill as it circumvents many that are involved in criminal acts in the virtual world but not within the boundaries of South Africa. The penalty provisions are dependent upon the offense, but can be up to 15 years imprisonment or both imprisonment and a fine.

Another key element of the bill addresses the service providers and financial institutions that are involved in the cybercrime actions. The requirement of these organizations is to report an offense within 72 hours as well as preserve any evidence; otherwise face legal consequences. Failure to do so could result in a fine up to R50,000.

New Approach

It may appear as if the provisions of the bill are lacking in punishment for the actual criminals that are involved in digital theft, but when you look at the broad landscape of the virtual world, you realize that these criminals shift and change so fast, that it becomes almost impossible to capture them. Instead, the goal is to make the providers and financial institutions accountable for supplying them with the platforms that allow the crimes to continue.  This might be compared to looking at the bigger picture so that the baseline organizations keep the cybercriminals from having easy methods for the crimes.

The sheer volume of digital piracy, data theft, and breaches has created an entirely new realm within both the legal and prosecutorial arenas. The virtual world has taken the world by storm and companies as well as government laws are quickly trying to catch up. Da Vinci Forensics & CyberEd maintain up-to-the-minute information to assist in protecting personal and proprietary information and offers guidelines to help companies and their staff to stay within the law. Working together, we can help to assure safety for all.

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