The Government noted that it considers cyber-crime as of national importance, so anyone who goes against the state is considered an enemy.
Minister of State Joseph during his weekly press conference at the Ministry of the Presidency on Friday, said that the way in which the world is going, Governments are subjected to all sorts of attack from cyber agents. At the level of the National Security Committee a meeting was held to discuss cyber security and works are currently ongoing in some governmental agencies and other sectors. Harmon noted that the bill itself is a measure to strengthen the government against cyber-attack.
According to section 18 (1) of the draft legislation “a person commits an offence of sedition if the person, whether in and out of Guyana, intentionally publishes, transmits or circulates by use of a computer system, a statement or words, either spoken or written, a text, video, image, sign, visible representation, or thing, that
- Brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite dissatisfaction towards the Government establish by law in Guyana;
- Advocate the use, without the authority of law, of force as a means of accomplishing a governmental change within.”
The Minister when asked by the media how this piece of legislation will fit into place as it relates to cyber-attack and national security, he noted this piece of legislation is about national security.
In his response, Harmon noted that the enemy is no more out there a gun and uniform but uses a computer to attack your system. He noted that the government is particularly concerned about the systems of the state with regards to espionage, sabotage and subversion.
This piece of legislation, even though can be used to suppress freedom of speech, should not be discussed exclusively but rather the entire bill holistically. “We must understand that the section must be seen as par tof the entire suite of measures that are being put in place under this bill,” he noted.
The amended piece of legislation is receiving wide spread criticism from persons in society, even from some government supporters.
According to Cultural Advisor within the Ministry of Culture, Rule Johnson, if the bill is passed, this section will be the a “poisonous piece of anti-democratic legislation” in modern history.
The advisor noted that “disaffection towards government is par for the course of politics in a democracy and the Internet remains the most powerful medium for democratic expression we have.”
“This administration rode to power on a wave of disaffection incited against the PPP by persons like me using social media. To therefore include a provision like this in an anti-crime bill is to criminalize the exact sort of dissent that was key to what was a necessary change in political administration. This should be roundly opposed by anyone claiming to express democratic credentials,” he said.