Amended Cybercrime Bill to be laid in Trinidad and Tobago Parliament this week to tackle spread of false information on social media

According to newspaper reports, the Honourable Faris Al-Rawi, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs of Trinidad and Tobago said an amended Cybercrime Bill will be laid in the Trinidad and Tobago Parliament on Thursday February 16 2017 to take into account the spread of false information and/or “horrible imagery” on social media.

According to the Trinidad Guardian article on Wednesday February 15 2017, the Attorney General said :

“Absolutely. There is the Cybercrime Bill which the LRC (Legislative Review Committee) has completed and which is going to Cabinet this Thursday.”

Al-Rawi said the reason why the Government choose the bill as a priority was to control the “Roman Colosseum phenomenon…the thirst for blood, scandal and imagery” now taking place online.

“Our society runs the risk of being deemed to be very much, in lost measure…out of control. The irresponsibility that is exercised without any regard for the consequence of families…or to children or persons who are victims or to just create panic and fear.”

Al-Rawi’s plan comes in the wake of complaints by acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams, that such posts, in the face of a spiralling murder rate, was creating a logistical headache for the police, who often have to go out to check the veracity of such postings.

Yesterday, the AG described some of the things put on social media as “astounding. So we focused on the Cybercrime Bill and we have made some very important changes in terms of the previous version that was in circulation. I think the country is going to be very pleased with the product.

So far, Al-Rawi said there had been extensive consultations with the Media Association of T&T, Publishers Association, T&T Publishers and Broadcasters Association (TTPBA) and other entities on the matter.

“We are ready to rock and roll. This is a step in the right direction to control this kind of behaviour.”

Questioned by the media on how the bill will affect the content of social media and what sanctions will be imposed on those irresponsible users, Al-Rawi opted not to divulge any information, saying he preferred Cabinet to first give its approval.

“Then I would go into all of the particulars. Suffice to say, it is a very robust piece of law on which there has been a significant amount of consultation and I believe it is in the right zone of operations. I don’t want to dilute what was said here today.”

The Trinidad Express article on Wednesday February 15 2017 also carried the Attorney General’s comments on the amended Cybercrime Bill :

Al-Rawi said Trinidad and Tobago runs the risk of being deemed a society that is out of control.

“The irresponsibility that is exercised without any regard for the consequence to families or to children or to persons who are victims or just panic and fear, it is really astounding,” he said.

He added the legislation is a step in the right direction to controlling this kind of online behaviour and the public would be “very pleased”.

The Cybercrime Bill was introduced in Parliament in 2014 and again in 2015. Both Bills lapsed with the end of the Parliamentary sessions in 2014 and 2015.

See The Cybercrime Bill 2014 and Cybercrime Bill 2015 on the ICT-related Laws and Policies in Trinidad and Tobago section.