The new Cyber Crime Act is critical for national development – Dir. of Comms. MIC
SIERRA LEONE, Freetown: A day after President Bio appended his signature to the Cyber Crime Bill, Director of Communication, Ministry of Information and Communication, Mumini Jalloh, has told journalists that Cyber security is very critical to the economic development of our country and essential for the protection of individual rights within the national ecosystem.
He made this statement at the usual government press briefing at the conference hall of the Ministry of Information and Communication on Youyi Building in Freetown on Thursday 18th November 2021.
Following the spate of digital bullying and other digital offences in the country, government through the Ministry of Information and Communication drafted a bill to remedy the situation. After a thorough and rigorous scrutiny of the Bill by the public, the President appended his signature to the bill, making it officially an Act of Parliament.
“The internet has become a critical infrastructural facilitator of engagement for individuals as well as businesses and corporations across the globe, adding that in such a digital era, a successful economy is hinged on a secured, safe and resilient national digital ecosystem,” he added.
He said the new Cyber Act focuses on cyber crime and electronics evidence which he said are currently not in the country’s judicial system. He said the objectives of the Act include, but are not limited to the effective legal and comprehensive legal and regulatory institutional framework for the prohibition, detection, prosecution and punishment of cyber bullying.
However, he said the Act provided sufficient safeguards and guarantee individual privacy and human right. He also mentioned that the Act prescribed fines which ranges from 5 to 50 million, 5 to 6 billion, and a jail term of 1 and 10 years.
He disclosed that the Cyber Crime Act has 24 offences that it criminalizes and for which there are penalties attached. Among these offences are: copyright, unauthorized access to protected systems, unauthorized data interception, unauthorized data interference, misuse of devices, sim box fraud, online child abuse, among others.
He disclosed that the country is experiencing an increase in the use of digital technology in the country with about 6.9 million people 67% of the country’s population compared to 65% in 2018. He further disclosed that 27% of the population now enjoys broadband as compared to 12% in 2018.
“There are about 700,000 active social media users in the country such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, with an average growth of about 21%. However, this increase in the use of digital technology has come with a new phenomenon in crime, for there is now an increase in cyber theft, bank fraud, identity theft, impersonation, and other cyber attacks to our critical information system,” he said.
He furthered that digital incidences affects sectors of the country’s economy, including energy, telecommunication, banking, etc. but he said the new Act will, among other things ensure investor confidence, adding that the new Cyber Act is one of the most progressive legislation the country has ever had, for it borders around the protection and privacy of people.
He revealed that the law established a Cyber Security Council that will be chaired by the country’s Vice President, adding that it will protect the critical information infrastructure of the country and provides for the protection of children on the internet and develop an overall cyber security ecosystem and as well create the capacity for Sierra Leone to respond to cyber security incidences which he said is in line with the digital transformational agenda of President Bio.
He also revealed that ECOWAS has pledged to improve the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) lab, and that plans are underway to train investigators, prosecutors, and Judges. He also mentioned that plans are also underway to establish a computer security incidence unit which is geared towards monitoring networks, as well as supporting law enforcement agencies to extract electronic evidence.
Deputy Minister of Information and Communication, Solomon Jamiru, described the Act as landmark legislation. He disclosed that plans are underway to enact a data protection law, noting that cabinet has already approved it. SKS/19/11/2021
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