Hefty fines, jail time for using someone’s phone, other devices without permission
Guyana’s Cybercrime Act of 2018 provides for the protection of people’s privacy and has listed heavy fines and imprisonment for persons who use the cellphone and electronic devices of others without their permission.
The Act was crafted and enacted to combat computer-related criminal activity and over the years, a number of persons have passed through the court for leaking intimate photos of others and using a computer system to threaten, harass and bully people online.
But while the Act caters for breaching someone’s cell phone and other electronic devices, there are no known cases of anyone being charged under that specific section.
In the Act, it states that Cybercrime offences include but are not limited to illegal access to a computer system; computer-related fraud and forgery; publication or transmission of images of private areas of a person and using a computer system to coerce, harass, intimidate, humiliate, etc. a person.
The Act lists any computer including desktops, laptops, and electronic tablets, as well as video game consoles, smart phones, personal digital assistants, smart televisions, and video cameras, among other things as a ‘computer system’.
Under Section 3 (1) of the Act, a person commits an offence if they intentionally, without authorisation or in excess of authorisation, or by infringing any security measure, accesses a computer system of another person.
This would include using someone’s ‘computer system’ without their permission or using it to do something other than permitted to do.
“Memorising a person’s password and later accessing their phone with that password is likely a crime. Using a sleeping person’s fingerprint or face to surmount biometric protections also likely constitutes a crime,” State Counsel attached to the Attorney General’s Chambers, Chevy Devonish, stated in a social media post on Thursday.
“If a person gives you permission to access their email but you then proceed to run their WhatsApp or Facebook chat, this is also likely a crime,” the lawyer also explained.
According to the State Counsel, if someone gives another permission to use their password today, and unless they say or suggest the password may be used at a later date, that may also constitute a crime.
If found guilty under Section 3 (1), that person is liable, on summary conviction, to a fine of three million dollars and three years imprisonment or on conviction on indictment to a fine of five million dollars and five years imprisonment.
Further, Section 4 (1) of the Act criminalises the act intentionally and without lawful excuse intercepting the transmission of electronic data or any communication of another person to, from, or within a computer system.
“As such, creating a “dummy” of a person’s phone or any of their social media, thereby allowing you to intercept the messages or other communication they receive is a crime,” Devonish explained.
“This would include, for example, activating, without a person’s knowledge or privacy, a WhatsApp Web of a person’s account so as to allow you to read all of their messages etc,” he added.
The attorney noted that importantly, being in a relationship with someone, or even being married to someone, is not an exception.
If found guilty under Section 4 (1), that person is liable, on summary conviction, to a fine of five million dollars and three years imprisonment or on conviction on indictment to a fine of eight million dollars and five years imprisonment.