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Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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CyberCrime Bill makes way through parliament

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By Tabora Bojang

The CyberCrime Bill 2023 has been referred to the Assembly’s Business Committee (ABC) for committal to the relevant standing committee.

The ABC is headed by the speaker and has three days to refer the bill to a committee. The committee will carry out consultations with relevant state and non-state actors and submit its report before the plenary at future sittings.

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The government argued the bill is aimed at enhancing substantial provisions with respect to cybercrime and establish procedural measures for obtaining electronic evidence and international cooperation for an effective fight against cybercrime.

“Due to the robustness and interconnected nature of the Internet, criminals have resorted to using this medium to target people, organisations and even states to commit economic crimes, intellectual property theft, cyber war and espionage. Criminals also take advantage of the Internet because of its borderless nature. And a criminal outside of The Gambia can perpetuate crimes within The Gambia through the use of the Internet and run scot free because of its lack of comprehensive cybercrime law,” Communications and Digital Economy Minister Ousman Bah said while introducing the bill for second reading yesterday.

He said the introduction of a comprehensive cybercrime law that facilitates international cooperation will help expedite the fight against all forms of online crimes.

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Concerns

However, concerns have been raised by civil society actors including Gambia Press Union that the proposed cybercrime law could restrict and limit press freedom and free speech and called on lawmakers to subject it to wide public consultations to avoid flaws.

If passed, the law will secure a legitimate basis for law enforcement agencies including the intelligence agencies to monitor and intercept specific communications in real-time connected with persons or premises under investigation if they have reasonable grounds to believe trafficked data is associated with specific communications or connected with persons under investigation. 

It will also among others outlaw “using a computer system with intent to harm to spread false news or information against a person”. The bill also addresses other issues such as child pornography, hate speech and blackmail.

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