Different points of concern have been raised by Members of Parliament on the recently tabled bill, Electronic Transaction Act 2019, by the Deputy Minister of Information and Communication, Mamadi Gobeh Kamara. According to the Deputy Minister, the bill would provide for the admissibility of electronic messages and evidence and for the validity en enforceability of contracts executed in electronic forms and to provide for other related matters. However, the Member of Parliament for Constituency 59 in Kambia District, Hon Abdul Karim Kamara, raised eyebrows on the intention of bill by allowing the use of electronic evidence in the court of law relating to people’s posts on the social media. “I hope this is not a swift way to suppress people who are powerless, because, day-in-day-out influential people complain of having been defamed,” Hon. Kamara cautioned. “I hope we would not just get up in the morning and hear that a certain number of people have been detained for something they may have written on social media that might not be palatable with the powers that be,” he added. The Member of Parliament for Constituency 75 in Port Loko District, Hon Abdul Latiff Sesay, said the bill was important noting the fact that it would make electronic signature authentic and accessible. But he questioned the security of the signatures. “Do we have the required security to secure those signatures,” he questions, considering the fact that there are a lot of scammers all over the place trying to beat the system. He further questioned if there were mechanisms in place to detect the authenticity of signatures that would be used in the system. “We cannot just be following the international trends; we need to know if we have the professional to do the job,” Hon Latiff Sesay pointed out.
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The Member of Parliament for Constituency 28 in Kono District Honourable Sahr Charles, believed the bill was important, “but we need to look at the underlined issues of concern that may serve as an obstacle to its effectiveness,” he said. Hon. Charles noted that the use of electronic information in the court of law should be looked into as a strong concern. His was a concern on electronic messages on social media that could be used as evidence in the court of law. “How do you identify the sender,” he questioned. He noted that the identification of the sender of any message on social media was key if any court action was to be taken against the perceived sender. “Some people create accounts in the name of other people, is there any means to know the actual sender of the information before the particular message could be used in the court of law as electronic evidence,” Hon Charles queried.
By Abdulai Gbla
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