The Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill will affect every internet user in South Africa – but at 139 pages long, there’s a lot to go through. But if you haven’t yet, now is the time! Give your comments on the Bill to Parliament before the 10 August deadline.

Why has this Bill been introduced? The government says it will help fight cybercrime and make South Africa’s cyberspace more secure.

In 2015, Right2Know criticized the draft version of the Bill for threatening internet freedom, and thousands of internet users signed a petition denouncing it. The 2017 Bill has some welcome changes from its 2015 draft version, but a lot of remaining concerns.

Good changes are:

The “secrecy bill clauses” in the 2015 draft Bill, which would have criminalised journalists and whistleblowers for accessing classified information, are gone.

The copyright offences in the 2015 draft Bill, which could have criminalised you for posting a meme, are gone.

But there’s some bad stuff.

Section 17 of the Bill makes it a criminal offence to send or resend “malicious communication”, which includes messages that could be harmful in various ways. This part of the Bill is new. This is what State Security Minister David Mahlobo was talking about when he proposed social media regulation – a proposal that has been widely rejected on social media under the hashtag #HandsOffSocialMedia. (You can add your name to that call here!)…