| James Kon |
THE Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) yesterday warned members of the public who post seditious and defamatory materials online that are in contempt of government could be prosecuted under the Seditious Act or Public Order act.
Christopher Ng, Counsel and Deputy Public Prosecutor, Criminal Justice Division, AGC before concluding his presentation on “Cybercrime: Legal Framework, Prosecution and the Way Forward” at the Rizqun International Hotel said, “In the past, there have been messages on Facebook and WhatsApp criticising government policies especially on the newly-implemented Syariah Penal Code Order 2013.
“Although the public can express their views online, it is also important not to put their views across that could fall foul of the laws of Brunei Darussalam. Because under the Seditious Act or Public Order Act, individuals who say things that are contempt of government can be prosecuted.”
Christopher Ng also highlighted the danger of sharing personal information on social media that could expose youth to crimes.
During the presentation, the Deputy Public Prosecutor, Criminal Justice Division, AGC pointed put the importance for Brunei Darussalam’s laws to be constantly updated in order to combat cybercrime.
Therefore in 2012, he said the Sultanate amended its Penal Code to take into account the growing nature of sexual crimes that are perpetuated over the Internet.
One of the main offences that was introduced was the sexual grooming offence. It is an offence for anyone above 21 years of age who take actions to deliberately befriend and establish an emotional connection with a person under the age of 16 to lower the minor’s inhibitions in preparation to sexually assault or engage the minor in child prostitution or pornography. The penalty is imprisonment for up to three years or a fine or both under Section 377G of the Penal Code, Chapter 22.
While in line with the Child Online Protection network’s guidelines, he explained, “Two subsequent laws were introduced to the Penal Code, namely Section 293A (I) of the Penal code, whereby possession of indecent or obscene photographs or pseudo photographs of a child is an offence and punishable with imprisonment which may extend up to five years or a fine or both. While under Section 293B (I) of the Penal Code, taking, distributing, showing, advertising and accessing indecent or obscene photographs or pseudo photographs of a child is an offence punishable with imprisonment which may extend to 10 years or a fine or both.”
Christopher Ng also touched on the printing and publication of voyeuristic recording under the Penal Code. Any person, who knows that a recording was obtained by the commission of an offence under Section 377 and prints, copies, publishes, distributes, circulates, sells, advertises or makes available the recording in his possession for the purpose of printing, copying, publishing, distributing, circulating, selling or advertising or making it available is guilty of an offence and shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years or a fine or both.
On the challenges, he said, “Cybercrime is evolving, therefore laws need to evolve, too. We feel that cyber stalking, online harassment, phishing are currently not appropriately covered and we will need to look into the amendments of our laws in the future.”
Another challenge, he said, is the lack of expertise and technical understanding of technical aspects of cybercrime. “The need for judicial expertise is particularly important. International cooperation is also vital in brining the perpetrators to justice.
“We cannot ignore the role of the private sector. Both the public and private sectors need to work together to combat cybercrime. Evidence for law enforcement to solve cybercrime is often held by the private industry and outside the auspices of the law enforcement jurisdiction. The private sector in most cases is the main victims of cybercrimes and has a vested interest in participating in such initiatives.”
Earlier, Dk Didi Nuraza binti Pg Hj Latiff, also a Counsel and Deputy Public Prosecutor, Criminal Justice Division, AGC gave examples of cybercrime cases that the AGC has successfully prosecuted.