Caribbean News Now!

About Us Contact Us

Countries/Territories

Jump to your country or territory of interest

Advertise with us

Reach our daily visitors from around the Caribbean and throughout the world. Click here for rates and placements.

Contribute

Submit news and opinion for publication

Subscribe

Click here to receive our daily regional news headlines by email.

Archives

Click here to browse our extensive archives going back to 2004

Also, for the convenience of our readers and the online community generally, we have reproduced the complete Caribbean Net News archives from 2004 to 2010 here.

Climate Change Watch

The Caribbean is especially vulnerable to rising sea levels brought about by global warming. Read the latest news and information here...

Travel


Follow Caribbean News Now on Twitter
Connect with Caribbean News Now on Linkedin



News from the Caribbean:


Back To Today's News

British Virgin Islands urged to include public-interest exception in cybercrime bill
Published on February 14, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

VIENNA, Austria (IPI) -- A bill unveiled last week in the British Virgin Islands that would punish the publishing of sensitive computer data with 20 years in prison should be amended to include a public-interest exception in order to avoid a chilling effect on legitimate journalistic activity, the International Press Institute (IPI) said on Wednesday.

Under Section 13 of the proposed Computer Misuse and Cybercrime Act, anyone who publishes unlawfully obtained information from a "protected computer" -- defined as containing data related to the national security, international relations, and "financial services businesses", among others, of the BVI -- faces up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of US$1 million. In addition, anyone who publishes information irrespective of content "which he or she knows or ought reasonably to have known" was illegally obtained from a computer risks 15 years in prison and/or a fine of US$500,000.

The strictest punishments are reserved for those who actually obtain data from computers without authorisation. Section 9 punishes the copying, transferring, or sharing of data "held in any computer for a specified or general lawful purpose" with 20 years in prison and/or a fine of US$1 million. This punishment is tripled if the data in question come from a "protected" computer, resulting in a potential prison term of 60 years and a fine of US$3 million.

The tabling of the bill comes just weeks after the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), in cooperation with The Guardian newspaper in London, revealed that relatives of China's political leaders were secretly storing wealth in BVI offshore corporations. This and similar reports published by ICIJ over the past year relied on secret files leaked from financial-services firms.

If approved by the BVI House of Assembly, the act would apply to "any person ... within or outside the Virgin Islands" using computer data either in the Virgin Islands or located somewhere else but "related to data regarding a national security matter or a financial services business [of BVI]".

barbara_trionfi_ipi.jpg
Barbara Trionfi
"While the protection of privacy and secrecy can be a reasonable government aim, we fear that the wide net cast by this bill could lead to the criminalisation of legitimate journalistic activity in the British Virgin Islands," IPI press freedom manager Barbara Trionfi said. "It is vital that the House of Assembly amend the Computer Misuse and Cybercrime Bill to include a clear exception for information in the public interest, as journalists must be free to report on issues that affect democratic accountability."

Trionfi noted that the bill not only punishes the dissemination and publication of child pornography less harshly -- 10 years in prison or a fine of US$250,000 -- but also provides what is essentially a public-interest exception, exempting pornographic material used for a "bona fide scientific, research, medical or law enforcement purpose."

"It is not clear why the bill declines to provide the same kind of public-interest guarantee for the use of computer data even though it is easy to imagine how information about such data could be publicly relevant," she said.

Trionfi added: "We are also concerned that the disproportionately harsh punishments foreseen by this bill, as well as a lack of specificity as to which information is protected, will contribute to a dangerous chilling effect on the media."

In a 2004 joint declaration on public secrecy laws, the freedom-of-expression rapporteurs of the Organization of American States, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and the United Nations stated that "journalists and civil society representatives should never be subject to liability for publishing or further disseminating this [legally secret] information, regardless of whether or not it has been leaked to them, unless they committed fraud or another crime to obtain the information."

The statement also called on states to "indicate clearly the criteria which should be used in determining whether or not information can be declared secret" and established that whistleblowers should be protected from criminal liability if they acted in "good faith."

Although the present bill affects both public and private secrecy, IPI urges the BVI to take account of these principles, in addition to introducing freedom-of-information legislation to guarantee the right of its citizens to access public information.
 
Reads: 3750





Click here to receive daily news headlines from Caribbean News Now!



Back...

Comments:

DANIEL LASHKOFF:

ALLI ESTA EL DETALLE. ESTA GENTE JAMAS NEGO EL CONTACTO CON LOS MAGNATES POLITICO-COMUNISTAS CHINOS.


Back...

Send us your comments!  

Send us your comments on this article. All fields are required.

For your contribution to reach us, you must (a) provide a valid e-mail address and (b) click on the validation link that will be sent to the e-mail address you provide.  If the address is not valid or you don't click on the validation link, we will never see it!

Your Name:

Your Email:

(Validation required)

Comments:
Enter Code





Disclaimer
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment author and are not representative of Caribbean News Now or its staff. Caribbean News Now accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Caribbean News Now reserves the right to remove, edit or censor any comments. Any content that is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will not be approved.
Before posting, please refer to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.



Other Headlines:



Regional Sports: