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T&T gov't tackles 'fake' news on social media

Wednesday, February 15, 2017 | 11:03 AM    

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — The Trinidad and Tobago government has hinted at introducing legislation to curb the activities of social media users who post gory and irresponsible videos, comments and photographs to create sensation and instil fear and panic.

Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi says he is taking to Cabinet on Thursday legislation to amend the Cybercrime Bill to deal with reckless users who he said are now out of control in sharing unverified information.

Al-Rawi speaking at the Association of Real Estate Agents’ meeting on Tuesday, said the bill is intended to stop the abusers of social media who “plaster things” on Facebook without verification.

He told the audience that the Cybercrime Bill, which the LRC (Legislative Review Committee), has completed would be going to Cabinet this Thursday.


“Our society runs the risk of being deemed to be very much, in lost measure…out of control,” he said, citing “the irresponsibility that is exercised without any regard for the consequence of families…or to children or persons who are victims or to just create panic and fear.”

Al-Rawi’s plan comes in the wake of complaints by acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams, that such posts, in the face of a spiralling murder rate, was creating a logistical headache for the police, who often have to go out to check the veracity of such postings.

Al-Rawi described some of the content put on social media as “astounding.

“So we [are] focused on the Cybercrime Bill and we have made some very important changes in terms of the previous version that was in circulation. I think the country is going to be very pleased with the product,” he said.

Al- Rawi also noted that there have been extensive consultations with the Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago, the Trinidad and Tobago Publishers and Broadcasters Association (TTPBA) and other entities on the matter.

“We are ready to rock and roll. This is a step in the right direction to control this kind of behaviour,” he said, adding “suffice to say, it is a very robust piece of law on which there has been a significant amount of consultation and I believe it is in the right zone of operations.

Under Clause 19 of the Cybercrime Bill, which was first introduced to Parliament in 2014, anyone who seeks to create the offence of violating a person’s privacy by capturing and sharing pictures or videos of a person’s private area without their consent, commits an offence which carries a fine of TT$100,000 (One TT dollar =US$0.16 cents) and two years imprisonment on summary conviction or a fine of TT$500,000 and three years’ imprisonment on conviction on indictment.

Clause 20 seeks to criminalise the act of sending multiple electronic mail messages that are unsolicited and which causes harm to a person or damage to a computer.

This offence would carry a fine of TT$300,000 and three years imprisonment on summary conviction or a fine of TT$500,000 and five years imprisonment on conviction on indictment.

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