Is Being Rude Online a Cybercrime?

Image: Regulating For Globalization

Despite Vanuatu not entirely being a hotspot for malicious cyber activity, Deputy Prime Minister Ishmael Kalsakau believes “prevention is better than cure” while commenting on the potential Cyber Division with Vanuatu Police Force.

Cyber-terrorism, hacktivism agendas and ransomware demands are not known for leaving a digital footprint in the Pacific, however DPM Kalsakau mentioned that Cybercrime is present in Vanuatu.

Kalsakau explained: “Cybercrime exists in Vanuatu. You’re talking about all forms of normal crime” that is further perpetrated on the internet.

To add more context on what constitutes as a cybercrime on the internet the DPM was asked if the use or exchange of vulgar language online and if reported could be classified as a cyber offence? DPM responded: “Regarding the latter, the Penal Code will be amended to deal with such abuse inclusive of fakes (fake social media profiles). Cybercrime is about crime performed on the internet.”

According to the DPM, Vanuatu laws do not infringe on those using abusive language on the internet because of free speech, however, the idea of possibly being prosecuted for abusive, borderline online offensive and violent activity could garner online responsibility.

“But even on social media and other media with the cybercrime legislation it will deter against irresponsible acts or attitudes.”

When questioned, that can someone simply be charged for simply being rude or unpleasant?

“There will be a threshold if it tantamounts to a criminal act,” he said. DMP Kalsakau then acquiesced to the VPF cyber preparedness as a build-up in support of the cyber bill in the next parliament sitting.

The Bill of Cybercrime Act 2020 (yet to passed in Parliament) aims to protect individuals from offences that are facilitated by and through a computer system.

These are the Computer Related Offences and Penalties under the Bill of Cybercrime 2020:

1. Child pornography

A fine not exceeding VT5,000,000 ( Vt5 million) or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 10 years, or both. In the case of a corporate body — to a fine not exceeding VT15,000,000.

2. Hosting child pornography

A fine not exceeding VT5,000,000 or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 10 years, or both. In the case of a body corporate- to a fine not exceeding VT10,000,000.

3. Identity-related crime

A fine not exceeding VT3,000,000 or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 3 years, or both. In the case of a body corporate- to a fine not exceeding VT5,000,000.

4. Cyber stalking

A fine not exceeding VT1,000,000 or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 3 years, or both. In the case of a body corporate- to a fine not exceeding VT3,000,000.

5. Solicitation of children

A fine not exceeding VT2,000,000 or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 5 years, or both.

6. Computer-related forgery

A fine not exceeding VT5,000,000, or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 12 years, or both. In the case of a body corporate- to a fine not exceeding VT10,000,000.

7. Computer-related fraud

A fine not exceeding VT5,000,000, or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 12 years, or both. In the case of a body corporate- to a fine not exceeding VT10,000,000.

8. Illegal access with intent to commit or facilitate further offences

A fine not exceeding VT7,000,000 or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 7 years, or both. In the case of a body corporate- a fine not exceeding VT9,000,000.

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