Cheap smart phones, easy access to internet especially social media like facebook and twitter have fueled mischievous acts and moral degeneration, which could land users in trouble. Insults, abuse, distasteful content and threat to national security have become a norm. KEITEBE KGOSIKEBATHO reports
The long arm of the law will soon catch up with careless internet users especially on social media networks, who go online to carry out mischievous acts, BOCRA CEO Thari Pheko has warned.
Speaking in Gaborone on Monday at a media engagement workshop hosted by his organisation, Pheko noted that although of recent government, or rather the nation watched in disbelief as the level of moral decay ever displayed by Batswana played itself on computer screens no serious legal action has so far been taken. This he says is despite the fact that there are laws in place designed to curb such behavior.
This heightened ‘misuse’ of the internet to broadcast unacceptable contents by certain individuals according to Thari is made worse by the fact that internet, especially from hand-held devices is easily accessible to an average Motswana. “This then enables one to capture even sensitive materials like fatal accidents and post them on social media instantly,” he said.
Thari said so high and popular is internet use especially to access social media like Facebook that he likened it to the love they have for Nandos; a popular Portuguese grilled chicken franchise which he claims has since made millions for its shareholders. “Like Nandos, this monster called Facebook has proved to be popular locally, but unlike Nandos which brings happiness to its users, Facebook is abused by some users. If only one would look at how it could be used in a positive way,” he said.
He warned that as a regulatory body BOCRA has now been left with no option but to act. Under the BOCRA Act section 55, a person that sends by means of a ‘public telecommunications system’ a message that is deemed to be offensive or of a menacing, indecent, obscene nature could be committing an offence.
Parliament also passed the Electronic Records (Evidence) Bill last year. The act, which many felt was crafted to control the use of cyberspace, especially social networks such as Facebook and Twitter allows for individuals insulted or defamed on social media, to present electronic records from cyberspace as evidence in court. If found guilty, offenders risk a P10, 000 fine, five years in prison or both
The Act recognises the appointment of a commissioning officer at Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) whose mandate is set to include authenticating electronic records for their admissibility in court.
“The communications regulatory authority shall be the certifying authority for purposes of this act. Unless otherwise provided in any other written law, where an electronic record is tendered in evidence, such an electronic record shall be admissible if it is relevant and is produced in an approved process,” reads the Act.
The Act further highlight that a certificate signed by the certifying authority purporting to identify the electronic records system including that part of the system that is relevant to the proceedings, shall be sufficient evidence of the integrity of the electronic records system.