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Is the NDP going through the backdoor to censor the media?

- New Computer Misuse and Cybercrime Act 2013 has been placed before the House of Assembly today
At today’s January 13, 2014 Fourth Sitting of the Third Session of the Second House of Assembly (HOA), the Computer Misuse and Cybercrime Act, 2013 will be tabled for its first reading. The Bill purports to allegedly bring about some form of media censorship. Photo: VINO/Team of Reporters
The 2014 Budget Address will be delivered by Premier and Minister of Finance Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith in the HOA. Photo: VINO/File
The 2014 Budget Address will be delivered by Premier and Minister of Finance Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith in the HOA. Photo: VINO/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI -The National Democratic Party (NDP) Administration, seems to be known for the Government that has actively advocated for the censorship of the media which will for the first time in the history of the Territory, take the Virgin Islands backwards and threaten our young democracy, is at it again.

At today’s January 13, 2014 Forth Sitting of the Third Session of the Second House of Assembly (HOA), while some may be focusing on the Budget Address to be delivered by Premier and Minister of Finance Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, many need to pay attention to the new Computer Misuse and Cybercrime Act, 2013 on the Order Paper.

The new Bill is down for its first reading at today’s sitting and many, including two local Attorneys, had called our news room to bring this Bill to our attention.

One Attorney, who did not want his name to be used, said “you all in the electronic media need to watch the regulations that will come after on this Bill and how they are cleverly through the backdoor trying to affect your operations…. keep your eyes on those who have consistently advocated for the crackdown on press freedom”.

Computer Misuse & Cybercrime Act 2013

In the new Bill just obtained by this news site, computer means among other things, “….any data storage facility or communications facility, including the internet, directly related to or operating in conjunction with such device or group of such interconnected or related devices”.

The Bill seems to be a bit confusing to the ordinary none legal mind and seems to be advocating the protection, in many cases, of data.

For example, in section 12 (3) it states that a computer shall be treated as protected if at the time of the commission of the offense the persons committing the offence knew, or ought reasonably to have known that, or was reckless as to whether, the computer or any programme or data contained in that or any other computer, is used directly in connection with or necessary for:

a. The security, defense or international relations of the Virgin Islands
b. the existence or identity of a confidential source of information relation to the enforcement of criminal law among others.

The new bill would impose some heavy fines for its violations including in some cases, forty to fifty thousand dollars and also imprisonment for terms not exceeding five years.

Some positives in the Bill

The Bill appears to also have some positives, as it seeks to crack down on Child Pornography, a move strongly supported by this news site. However, the fine would not exceed a million dollars.

The Bill in Section 14 states that a person commits Child Pornography if he or she intentionally:
a. Produces children pornography for the purpose of its publication through computer
b. publishes child pornography through computer
c. possesses child pornography in a computer or on any computer data storage medium.

While the new Computer and Cybercrime Act 2013 has some good areas, the online media are warned to pay close attention to this Bill by some who have looked at it.

They have also suggested that close attention is paid to the Regulations to give effect to the Bill, as the Government may be going through the backdoor to interfere with the rights of a free press.

Also on today’s Order Paper are reports from two Government Ministers, Honourables Ronnie W. Skelton and Mark H. Vanterpool from agencies under their portfolios.

The main highlight of today’s Sitting is the Speech on the Budget which will give way to the Appropriation Act of 2014.
The HOA meeting will be carried live on CBN Channel 51 from 10:00 a.m.

30 Responses to “Is the NDP going through the backdoor to censor the media?”

  • ooooo (13/01/2014, 10:36) Like (1) Dislike (9) Reply
    is this to silence the media?
  • A. Fahie (13/01/2014, 10:41) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
  • well saw (13/01/2014, 10:42) Like (7) Dislike (3) Reply
    These NDP guys means that they will get at the media one way or another.
  • where (13/01/2014, 10:43) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    Where can I get a copy of this bill
  • well well well (13/01/2014, 10:47) Like (9) Dislike (3) Reply
    This NDP government always find creative ways to come after who they want to get at that makes their actions seem justifiable. I see these guys as extremely dangerous.
  • glory days (13/01/2014, 10:49) Like (2) Dislike (2) Reply
    Well mey bout what next from deeds people
  • Good Bill (13/01/2014, 10:55) Like (1) Dislike (1) Reply
    In general the Bill is good but some of the sections have bad intent especially towards the media & freedom of speech.
  • bay yute (13/01/2014, 11:00) Like (1) Dislike (2) Reply
    bad bill backdoor indeed watch out
  • !!!! (13/01/2014, 11:11) Like (4) Dislike (2) Reply
    Vip just replace and repail come 2016
  • Gecko (13/01/2014, 11:34) Like (6) Dislike (0) Reply
    this reminds me of the bill forcing non-profit groups to declare monies, accounting and pay fine and/or taxes which discourages any grass root community committee to do for themselves instead of waiting for government. This non-profit bill also was meant to discourage any organization from challenging the government in developments like runway or cruise ship dock, or any environmental violations. No organizer wants to be fined and can't afford an accountant for something that was meant to help.
    Instead of squashing media, I want more investigative journalism to expose corruption like the audit did.
    All these new bills are intended to protect the government and not the people.
  • Scary Mary (13/01/2014, 11:57) Like (7) Dislike (0) Reply
    I guess we will all have to wait and see what the Bill says, in its entirety. Then I suppose we will have to seek legal clarification and the full meaning, intent and impact of the Bill as it relates to the media and freedom of speech in general.

    If the government feels they can pass a new bill through the house that in any way hampers or infringes upon freedom of speech, I think it is safe to say that the people of the Virgin Islands will not take THAT lying down.

    We can be complacent about a lot of things, but freedom of speech is not one of them! Government may be getting cozy with the Chinese, but I can promise you that Caribbean people won't stand for the Chinese style of government, including government imposed censorship!
  • big head (13/01/2014, 12:21) Like (1) Dislike (1) Reply
    Oh boy hope this bill does not come back to hunt them
  • sorry (13/01/2014, 13:15) Like (2) Dislike (17) Reply
    sorry to say but u media guys going to far these days so this might be a good idea
  • gleny (13/01/2014, 15:10) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    is vino all of them after they hate willock really bad some of them his so call friends them making all kinds of bills ha ha
  • day (13/01/2014, 16:16) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Congratulations on a very good article
  • You think (13/01/2014, 17:08) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Now all you bloggers will be in hot water. You may have to watch what you say if anything at all.
  • 23 years old (13/01/2014, 20:15) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    So WE the young people, who voted in overwhelming numbers for the ndp Now it’s only right that we offer the people of the BVI an apology for the mess the NDP has pour on our country and our freedom
  • black boy (13/01/2014, 20:50) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    Some people is in a state of total denial on the mistake the voters made. Why is still the NDP still in ofice and we have not run them out is beyond me.
  • Boo (13/01/2014, 23:19) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Look like they kick down the front door on the media
  • my two cents (14/01/2014, 11:17) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    if they think they will be there for ever let them stop there NDP leave the media alone they can also be your friend as you saw leading up to the 2011 elections
  • live (14/01/2014, 17:58) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    the ndp will live to regret the censorship the press
  • live (14/01/2014, 17:58) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    the ndp will live to regret the censorship the press

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