Laws are introduced and passed in the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago which consists of the President of Trinidad and Tobago and two bodies, a House of Representatives and a Senate. The House of Representatives has forty one (41) elected representatives of the constituencies in Trinidad and Tobago. The Senate has 31 senators appointed by the President, sixteen on the advice of the Prime Minister ; six on the advice of the Leader of the Opposition; and nine Independents appointed by the President.
Proposed laws are introduced in either in the House of Representatives or in the Senate as a Bill (Note: certain types of Bills known as “Money Bills” cannot be introduced in the Senate) . The Bill is debated and after a vote, is passed with or without amendments. This Bill (as passed) is then introduced in the other chamber of Parliament where it is similarly debated, possibly amended and voted on.
If there are no amendments to the Bill in the second chamber, then the Bill is passed.
If there are amendments to the Bill in the second chamber, the amendments have to be voted by the chamber where the Bill was first introduced.
Once the Bill in its final form has been approved by both the House of Representatives and the Senate, the Bill as passed becomes an Act. Depending on the the legislation, the Act comes into effect on the Date of Assent, and/or when proclaimed by the President.
Some of the general areas of concern regarding the Cybercrime Bill noted in our comments:
Suppression of free speech and the work of journalists
It is important to note that many of the clauses in this Bill can be applied to journalists carrying out their duties, and/or the free speech of private citizens, as well as to persons who are attempting, in the public interest, to report misconduct (aka whistleblowers). In the interest of support of the Fourth Estate as well as the principles of Free Speech enshrined in our Constitution, this Bill requires urgent complementary whistleblower/journalist protection via legislation.
A number of sections outline penalties of $100,000 to $3,000,000. These are non-trivial amounts that far exceed the penalties in other areas that many would view as more serious – for example drunk driving. We wonder if the concept of proportionality could be incorporated in this act. The quantum of penalties will have chilling effect on the legitimate use of computers and networks, for example, students learning about computer security and security professionals investigating vulnerabilities on behalf of their clients.
The general trend in technology has been to move towards using shared server resources in the cloud. This opens up the possibility that data and equipment in use by accused persons may be simultaneously used by other persons unrelated to the accused and may thus be unduly affected by the shutdown and/or seizure of such equipment and data. Care must be taken to protect those who are not party to the criminal activities of other persons.
Potential for Censorship and Abuse
In the interest of protecting the rights of citizens, we believe that all requests for access systems and data should be approved by the Judiciary via the application for, and receipt of, a warrant. This judicial warrant would ensure that any potential for abuse by the State, or its agents, would be mitigated.
Several sections of this Bill seem to run afoul of the Constitution’s directive that persons are protected from self incrimination, for example, the requirement that persons unlock their phones or decrypt their data in furtherance of an investigation. This is a dangerous issue and should be reconsidered.
It is highly likely that the Courts and Trinidad and Tobago Police Service will be called on to deal many cases under this legislation. As such, it is critical that officers of both agencies receive training in some of technical issues surrounding cyber crime. In this regard the TTCS would welcome the opportunity to assist in providing this training and any specialized advice when required.
The comments were put together by the TTCS based on
final review of last comments and edits on Friday June 16 2017 before submitting.
Many thanks to the contributors who helped with reviewing and commenting on the bill. For those interested in discussing and sharing ideas about computing, related technologies and related social issues are discussed, do join our announcement mailing list.
The Cybercrime Bill 2017 was introduced in the House of Representatives by the Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago Honourable Faris Al-Rawi on May 6 2017.
The purpose of the Cybercrime Bill, 2017 is to provide for the creation of offences related to cybercrime and for other related matters in Trinidad and Tobago and if passed would repeal the Computer Misuse Act 2000