South Africa
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Beware: These WhatsApp messages can now land you in jail in SA

The Cybercrimes Act 19 of 2020 has been signed by President Cyril Ramaphosa and will come into force on 1 December 2021. This means that certain WhatsApp messages could see a person imprisoned or face a fine.

You can be imprisoned for sending these WhatsApp messages in SA

According to MyBroadband, who cited Ellipsis Regulatory Solutions, the Act and provisions on “malicious communications” will criminalise the sending of certain types of harmful messages on social media in South Africa.

The Cybercrimes Act defines three types of harmful messages that have been criminalised in South Africa. They are messages which:

Penalties for sending such messages, therefore, include imprisonment for up to three years and/or a fine.

The Cybercrimes Act

The Act also includes definitions for cyber fraud, forgery, extortion, and theft of incorporeal property.

The unlawful and intentional access of a computer system or computer data storage medium is also considered an offence, along with the unlawful interception of, or interference with data.

In addition to defining specific cybercrimes, the Act also places several obligations on companies such as network operators, Internet service providers, and financial institutions.

Reporting cyber offences in SA

The Act stipulates that electronic communications service providers and financial institutions must report cyber offences without undue delay and, where feasible, within 72 hours of becoming aware of them. If they fail to do so, it may lead to a fine of us much as R50 000.

However, this specific part of the new law – Chapter 8: Reporting obligations and capacity building, Section 54 – is excluded from the president’s proclamation.

You can see all of the details over here.