As of Wednesday 1 December 2021, the Cybercrimes Bill will officially become law in South Africa. President Cyril Ramaphosa has outlined a set of measures that fall under the ‘Malicious Communications’ section, and certain types of messages sent online will now be PROHIBITED…

The maximum penalty for contravening these laws is a 15-year stint in prison. So it’s perhaps for the best that you brush up on the latest changes.

Malicious Communcations: What messages are now illegal to send in South Africa?

Data messages which incite damage to property or violence:

No matter how furious you are with someone, no matter how much you want to smash their stuff… you really shouldn’t put that in a text message. If you are caught encouraging others to partake in violence or property damage against an individual or a group, that will now go down as a criminal offence

“Any person who discloses, by means of an electronic communications service, a data message to a person, group of persons or the general public with the intention to incite—
(a) the causing of any damage to property belonging to; or
(b) violence against a person or a group of persons, is guilty of an offence.

Data messages which threaten a person or persons with damage to property or violence:

The bill goes further than just the implicit call for violence or property damage. If you use such a threat conditionally, that’s also treated just as seriously as someone saying they WILL carry out such actions, or as if they were to incite others.

A person commits an offence if they, by means of an electronic communications service, unlawfully and intentionally discloses a malicious communication, which threatens a person with—
(ai) damage to property belonging to that person or a related person; or
(ii) violence against that person or a related person; or
(b) threatens a group of persons or any person forming part of, or associated with that group of persons, or;
(i) damage to property belonging to that group of persons or any person forming part of, or associated with, that group of persons;

And finally, the unlawful disclosure of any malicious communications containing an intimate image:

Sharing the ‘nudes’ of others without consent, from 1 December 2021, will become a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment. This rule essentially outlaws the act of ‘revenge porn’, too.

Sending on an image (real or simulated) of someone else’s genital or anal regions – or the exposed breasts of a female, transgender, or intersex person – constitutes an offence. These photos impair the sexual integrity of their victims, and such behaviour now carries some very serious legal consequences.

Any person (‘‘A’’) who unlawfully and intentionally discloses, by means of an electronic communications service, a data message of an intimate image of a person (‘‘B’’), without the consent of B, is guilty of an offence.
(2) For purposes of subsection (1), ‘‘B’’ means—
(ai) the person who can be identified as being displayed in the data message;
(ii) any person who is described as being displayed in the data message, irrespective of the fact that the person cannot be identified as being displayed in the data message; or
(iii) any person who can be identified from other information as being
displayed in the data message;

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