BVI News

Tougher penalties: Cybercriminals blackmailing local parents with lewd content of children

By Esther Durand, BVI News/Staff

Reporting a number of cases involving minors being blackmailed over lewd photos and videos, Premier Andrew Fahie has said the 2019 amendments to the territory’s Computer Misuse and Cybercrime Act is proposing penalties of more than a decade in prison and/or fines of up to half-a-million dollars.

Speaking in the House of Assembly on Thursday, Premier Fahie said he and the Minister for Education Dr Natalio Wheatley have been approached by parents and juvenile victims about being extorted.

“They are being blackmailed that if they go to the authorities or if they do not do certain things, these embarrassing photos and videos will be released to the public,” the Premier said.

He said these parents, who are either too embarrassed to go to the police or do not have the financial means to take legal action, are suffering.

More teeth, greater protection

Premier Fahie, however, said the proposed amendments to the Cybercrime Act will provide greater protection for these individuals and give the legislation what he described as ‘teeth’.

“What this means is persons who are using computers and devices to commit cybercrimes — especially those who believe they have blanket anonymity because they are hiding behind false profile names etcetera — will find that the police will now have the tools to be more effective in coming after them,” Fahie said.

Provisions for harassment, child porn, criminal intimidation

The Premier said the amendment now covers areas such as facilitating abuse of a child online, make electronic records of explicit acts with a child, or introducing a child to an online relationship with another child or adult for a sexually explicit act or in a manner that may offend a reasonable adult.

The amendments also include provisions for harassment, stalking, grossly offensive behaviour, criminal intimidation, blackmail, criminal deception, among other things.

Fines and penalties

For these offences, the Fahie-led government is proposing a term of imprisonment not exceeding seven years, a fine not exceeding $200,000, or both for summary convictions (convictions at the Magistrate’s Court).

If convicted at a higher court, an offender is facing a term of imprisonment not exceeding 14 years, a fine not exceeding $500,000, or both.

Meanwhile, persons who are found guilty of electronic defamation could attract a fine not exceeding $100,000, imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years, or both if the amendments are implemented.

Massive penalty increase for unlawful access, sharing data

Premier Fahie penalties for obtaining unlawful access, unlawful interception of data and making available device or data will also be severe.

“The proposal is to increase the fine from $10,000 and two years on summary conviction to $200,000 and seven years. And from $50,000 and five years on a conviction of indictment to $500,000 and 14 years,” he said.

As for unlawfully intercepting communication, the Premier said his administration is proposing a seven-year prison sentence and/or an increased fine from $50,000 to $200,000 on summary conviction.

If the offender is convicted in a higher court, he/she could see the penalty climb from $100,000 and/or 10 years in prison to $500,000 and/or 14 years in prison.”

For the offence of ‘making a device or data available’, government is hoping that the penalties will be increased from $40,000 to $200,000 and/or an increase in prison-time from five years to seven years.

If convicted in the High Court, the proposed increase is from $250,000 to $500,000 and/or 15 years imprisonment.

Copyright 2019 BVI News, Media Expressions Limited. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.

15 Comments

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  1. yolo says:

    invest in VPN people and make sure where your video in your face is not see. This is talk Tola we need our information>>>>>>>

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  2. LilyAnn says:

    How can you attack cyber bullying when people choose to fling their personals out in the public … heck, celebs aren’t invincible, who is tola ppl??

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  3. Anonymous says:

    And what exactly were these people doing when photos and video’s were taken of them. Don’t do anything embarrassing and there won’t be photos. Just a thought

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    • LCS says:

      I agree. And parents, please, teach your children values and morals. Then your children won’t be victims in this position. Teach them to love and respect themselves; high esteem.

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  4. vip heckler says:

    They didn’t include the political memes in this bill because they want to continue the onslaught on political opponents

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  5. lol says:

    I will/shall send them to PORNHUB

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  6. As a parent says:

    I control every aspect of my 16 year old daughter’s phone.I pay the bill and I go through her phone everyday.I also have a tracker on her phone to see where she is when she is not home.I am not spying on her, I am doing this for her safety and to protect her from the above mentioned.

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    • Another parent says:

      There you go, I got my daughter phone on lock. And like you said, it is not about spying on them, it is a safety thing with me.

    • I agree says:

      I am another parent that keep track of my son’s phone. I bought and pay his phone bill and I have a right to monitor his phone. Don’t just give your child a phone and that’s it, I have to see what web-site he is on,text exchanges the whole nine yard.

  7. OZYMANDIAS says:

    Well how about telling those SKET W****S to stop entertaining little boys. Leave something to the imagination nuh? And if you UGLY DON’T GO TO DAY RAVE.

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  8. lol says:

    Which politician was it that said “THE VIP BEHAVES LIKE PEDOPHILES”

  9. And says:

    I believe people who does this to children should spend the rest of their lives in prison without the possibilty of parole.

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  10. Factcheck says:

    These scams are run all over the world, this is not specifically against people in BVI. It’s tech savvy criminals who are organised and play the numbers game to generate revenue from scared (and often innocent) people. It is a shameful crime, but BVI cyber laws are not going to stop it, and BVI does not, and will never have, the capability to find these criminals. Even the USA cannot find them in 99.9% of cases. Cover up your camera with duct tape on your laptop and phone and check your behaviour, that is the best defence against these crims.

  11. My take says:

    I commend the Premier Hon. Fahie and his team for tackling this matter.

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