While there was sharp conflict and angry words fired across the floor, there were also some grace notes, and bipartisan support of important legislation - foremost among those, the Cybercrime Bill of 2020.
This bill makes it a crime to engage in cyber-bullying, revenge porn, the exploration of children with internet porn, and distributing person's private or intimate photos or videos to humiliate them.
So, very soon, it will be illegal for predators and cyberbullies to release videos and pictures of adults, or minors engaged in private sexual acts.
The Government is seeking to provide protection for these types of victims of this all too common practice. But, the Cybercrime bill goes even further; it addresses issues such as identity theft, child solicitation on the internet, electronic fraud, and the infringement of copyright patents, designs, and trademarks. You can also violate this new law based on what you publish on social media platforms like Facebook.
Here's today's debate over the Cybercrime Bill, which had widespread support from both sides of the aisle:
Hon. Cordel Hyde, National Deputy, PUP
"I rise in support of the cybercrime bill as we discussed in the house committee meeting on Wednesday, we think this long overdue, should have been maybe 15 years ago but the Africans say the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago the next best time is now so we on this side welcome this bill. And we acknowledge all the people all over the country in high and low places, the special envoy and her team other people single mothers and others all over the country who lobbied to bring this bill to fruition, also all the people who have been cyber bullied in the past who have been ridiculed, embarrassed, caused emotional distress, some have had to leave this country because it is too small because people's eyes have started to become or feel like bullets everywhere they went. We salute them wherever they are. Madam speaker this bill is comprehensive, game changing, rules as we know it will never be the same. I think it is important for us to spell out some to the public what's inside this bill. No longer will anyone be allowed to take pics of someone's private parts without their permission and publish that all over social media to harass, ridicule, embarrass or intimidate or blackmail a person. No longer will anyone be allowed to threaten to publish personal or private information to extort or cause ridicule or shame to another person. No longer will anyone be allowed to disseminate information they know to be false with the intent to embarrass or harm someone's reputation. No longer will anyone be allowed to lure children into child pornography or to engage in a sexual conversation with a child. No longer will anyone be allowed to arrange a meeting with a child for the purpose of abusing or engaging in sexual activity with the child even if you take no steps to actually effect this meeting. This legislation is strong and it's far reaching, if you commit any of these offenses, you will go to jail and you will go to jail for a long time and you will have to pay hefty fines. The bill outlaws everything from illegal access to a computer without the owner's permission, the illegal use of the computer data without the owners permission, to computer related forgeries and identity related fraud and theft, and if someone aids or abets or advices or encourages someone to violate any provisions of this bill that person will be treated as if they are the principal offender. The rules as we know it in social media will be no more."
Hon. Patrick Faber, Minister of Education
"These cybercrimes have to do with business fraud, identity theft, illegal access to a computer system is an offense, illegal access to the data off that computer will be an offense, illegal interference of that data will be an offense, illegal system interference whether it is you are interfering with more than just one individual computer or a whole system or network, illegal devise and code, this business about pirating is now going to be an offense so if you are sitting at home and you have a CD or a flash drive that you are going to push in your brand-new computer and somebody has given you codes to load on Microsoft office, Microsoft word and excel and all of that and that code was gathered illegally you are committing an offense. These are things that people in our country do every day and we don't want them to be caught madam speaker without knowing that this is something that is illegal. The committee felt so strongly about this that we believe that if somebody is convicted, caught intentionally in these offenses madam speaker that there should be no discretion on the part of the magistrate that in fact that person should be forced to pay the penalty and indeed get some prison time as a result of this so we are sending the signal there is zero tolerance for this kind of thing, you will go to jail and you will have to pay a very stiff financial penalty together."
This bill was passed by the House today - and now goes to the senate.