Three new and amended bills were passed by the National Council of Province (NCOP) during its sitting on Wednesday, July 1. These include the much-anticipated Cybercrimes Bill, as well as the Civil Union Amendment Bill and the Science and Technology Laws Amendment Bill.

The Cybercrimes Bill was initially called the Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill when it was first introduced in 2017, and since then, has undergone various phases of public participation. The objectives of the Bill include:

– create offenses and impose sanctions that have an impact on cyber-crime;
– criminalize the distribution of harmful data messages and provide for interim protection orders;
– further regulate cyber-crime jurisdiction.

“The bill further aims to regulate the powers to investigate cybercrimes, to further regulate aspects relating to mutual assistance in respect of the investigation of cybercrimes and to provide for the establishment of a 24/7 point of contact,” the NCOP said.

“The bill also imposes obligations on electronic communications service providers and financial institutions to assist in the investigation of cybercrimes. It also provides that the executive may enter into agreements with foreign states to promote cybersecurity.”

Some of the online messages covered under the bill include:

– Messages that cause damage to property or violence;
– Messages that threaten individuals with damage to property or violence;
– Messages that unlawfully contains an intimate image.
Civil Union Amendment Bill

The NCOP also passed the Civil Union Amendment Bill, and the aim of this specific Bill is to repeal Section 6 of the Civil Union Act. This is the Act that allows a marriage officer to inform the minister that he or she objects to marrying a couple on the ground of conscience, religion, and belief to solemnising a civil union between persons of the same sex.

According to the NCOP, it received more than 325 submissions from parties both for and against the change.

“The committee also considered section 195 (1) of the Constitution which provides that public administration must be governed by the democratic values and principles enshrined in the Constitution, including in subsection (d) that services must be provided impartially, fairly, equitably and without bias,” it said.

“The committee noted further that Section 197 (3) of the Constitution provides that no employee of the public service may be favoured or prejudiced only because that person supports a particular party or cause. The committee agreed that the repeal of section 6 of the Civil Union Act, 2006 was important in advancing equality and upholding the constitutional rights afforded to persons entering into same-sex unions.”

Science and Technology Laws Amendment Bill

The Science and Technology Laws Amendment Bill aims to amend the research project Scientific Research Council Act of 1988, the Academy of Science of South Africa Act of 2001, the Human Sciences Research Council Act of 2008, the Technology Innovation Agency Act of 2008, and the South African National Space Agency Act of 2008 to ensure the process of termination of membership for these Boards and Councils go smoothly. 
The bills will be sent to President Cyril Ramaphosa for approval.

Picture: Pixabay

Article written by

Lucinda Dordley

Lucinda is a hard news writer who occasionally dabbles in lifestyle writing, and recent journalism graduate. She is a proud intersectional feminist, and is passionate about actively creating a world which is free of discrimination and inequality.