By Theresa Goodwin
The government will be heading to Parliament shortly to make changes to the Electronic Crimes Act of 2013 to make it a criminal offense for people to slander or make malicious comments about someone’s character on social media or any other platform.
Legal Affairs Minister and Attorney General Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin said he has already consulted with Information Minister Melford Nicholas and other Cabinet colleagues on the matter and the next step will be in the Parliament of Antigua and Barbuda.
“When you are a journalist, you must be responsible. Transform that to a person in his own persona, how can somebody sit down in their home at night or day, and because they have a problem with the individual, post all manner of disgusting things about another and there is no sort of recourse in law for that,” the AG said.
“We have been getting advice from around the world as to how we can address this matter, and we are going to address the matter. It has got to stop; we are a decent society. We cannot have people on the media cursing bad words. Not in Antigua and Barbuda, man, we can’t; we have to do what is right and set standards for our people,” the Minister said during a radio interview on Saturday.
The current Act gives the police the authority to seek and apply through the court for search warrants to obtain data from electronic devices for use as evidence, given that the evidence is likely to be stored in data on the electronic device used to commit the offences.
The offences under the current Act include: access to or interference with an electronic system or network; sending offensive messages through communication services, identity theft; electronic forgery; electronic fraud; violation of privacy; misuse of encryption; child pornography; disabling or obtaining access to a sensitive electronic system; electronic terrorism; harassment utilising means of electronic system; false websites and spam; and unauthorized access to code.