As of yesterday (1 December 2021), key sections of the long-awaited Cybercrimes Act are officially in effect in South Africa This is great news (and boy, do we all need some of that right now!)
But what does this mean for your child and for you as a parent? We have decoded some of the most relevant implications for you in plain language:
The act criminalises certain instances of cyberbullying and revenge pornography in its section on “malicious communication”:
- Data Messages* ( which means any kind of data sent electronically including emails, private messages, WhatsApp’s, social media posts etc) inciting violence or damage to property are now a criminal offence
- Data Messages* threatening people with violence or damage to their property are now a criminal offence.
- Data messages* containing intimate images sent without consent (revenge pornography) is now a criminal offence.
Any of these offences could land you or (or your child) jail time of up to 3 years or a fine, or BOTH!
What does this REALLY mean for you and your screenager?
- No matter how furious you or your child is, no matter how much you want to smash someone in the face, egg their house, or kick their car bumper, do NOT put this in a WhatsApp group, a private message (remember these are screenshot!) or any digital format whatsoever, as messages like these could now be criminal offences. For example:
- If you are caught encouraging others to partake in violence or property damage against an individual or a group (such as messages sent promoting others to partake in the looting in SA earlier this year)
- If you are bullying someone on a group and threaten them with physical violence or violence to their property such “lets go “!@#$% up that little piece of !@#$%”
- If your child is being cyberbullied, you will have a better chance of getting law enforcement to help you stop the bully. The downside – if your child is accused of bullying, the consequences could be severe.
- Sending nudes without the consent of the person depicted is a criminal offence. For parents, if someone is distributing nude pictures of your child, you may have a better chance of stopping them from distributing the content. You could even get an interim protection order preventing others from sharing the pictures online (however, we know that once content is out there, it is almost impossible to contain entirely).
- In South Africa, the age of criminal capacity is 12 – so kids as young as 12 who send messages that are considered “malicious communications” could be charged criminally.
- Remember, the Act doesn’t differentiate between a creator and sharer and holds any person who makes available, broadcasts, or distributes malicious communications equally accountable in the eyes of the law!
As always, at Klikd we believe that moments like this present a great opportunity for conversation and connection with your screenager. Remember – go in lightly, avoid judgement and disdain. So, instead of “LISTEN TO ME, IF YOU EVER SEND SOMEONE’S NUDES YOU WILL GO TO JAIL!”, how about:
- Have you heard of the Cybercrimes Act?
- Did you know that it is now officially the law in South Africa?
- Do you know that it makes cyberbullying and sharing someone’s nudes criminal offences (which means you could go to jail for 3 years.)
- What do you think of this?
- Do you know anyone in your year who has sent a message on a group threatening to bully / beat someone up/ destroy someone’s property?
- Do you think if they knew that it was a criminal offence ,they would act differently?
Of course, we are adding the relevant provisions of the Cybercrimes Act to the Klikd App, enabling our learners to remain up to date and relevant with important developments that affect their online lives (https://klikd.co.za/the-app/)
As always, stay connected
Sarah and Pam