Jamaica Observer Headline #2
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Last Updated: June 12, 2013

Hackers, beware! - Higher fines coming for cybercrime

Hackers face even harsher fines if refuse to provide password used

BY ALICIA DUNKLEY-WILLIS Observer senior staff reporter dunkleya@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, June 06, 2013

SUGGESTIONS for an increase in the fines and penalties under the 2010 Cybercrimes Act, now being reviewed by a joint parliamentary committee, are to be taken on board.

Under the Act, an offence is committed when a person who knowingly obtains, for himself or another person, any unauthorised access to any programme or data held in a computer. That individual is liable upon conviction before a resident magistrate to a Þne not exceeding $2 million or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or to both; or if any damage is caused as a result of the commission of the offence, a Þne not exceeding $3 million or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or to both.

Proposals for the new fines have, however, not yet been put on the table.

The suggestion for a hike in the fines is one of several which have been accepted in the report of the Legal Reform Department of the Ministry of Justice following its review of the submissions and recommendations made to the joint select committee so far.

In February this year, telecommunications giant Digicel; CEO of Proficiency Labs International Dr Tyrone Grandison; and the Jamaica Constabulary Force recommended that the fines and terms of imprisonment under the Act should be increased, suggesting that they were not severe enough and did not act as a deterrent.

The police, during that meeting, said hackers continued to laugh at the law because the current penalties were just a slap on the wrist. They further advocated for stiffer penalties where such individuals refuse to provide an encryption password or pass code which they have used when they are caught by the authorities.

"We agree," the Director of Legal Reform Maurice Bailey said yesterday.

In the meantime, suggestions that the Act should include provisions for computer-related fraud offences have also been accepted by the Legal Reform Department.

The recommendation that the Act should make provision for offences related to computer-related fraud, forgery and identity-related crimes, which are not now covered by the Act, was a common thread in the presentations of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Jamaica Constabulary Force, telecommunications outfit LIME, Chief Executive Officer of Proficiency Labs International Dr Tyrone Grandison; Professor Dr Marco Gercke, director of the Cybercrime Research Institute, an independent global think tank dealing with legal aspects of cybercrime; and the Jamaican Bar Association to the committee recently.

"The legislation is limited in its scope; there are no distinct offences related to computer-related forgery, fraud and identity-related crimes," the Office of the DPP said at the time. At the same time, it said the legislation was further deficient as it had no provision dealing with "cyber extortion and extortionate threats".

In the meantime, Bailey said the department had "no objections" to the call by the Jamaican Bar Association that Jamaica become a signatory to the Council of European Convention on Cybercrime. The convention is the only binding international treaty on cybercrimes that has been adopted to date and lays down the guidelines for all governments wishing to develop legislation against cybercrime. The convention, which is open to signature by non-European States, provides a legal framework for international co-operation.

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