The final draft of the Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill, which was passed by cabinet last year, is due to be published today has been published online, ahead of its presentation to Parliament within the next few weeks. It has been heavily revised following public consultation over a draft that appeared in 2015.

At a media briefing in Pretoria this morning, deputy minister of justice and constitutional development, John Jeffery, was keen to emphasise that the Bill is not proposed to be a tool to extend the powers of the State Security Act. Indeed, he claims that it explicitly cannot be interpreted to increase “surveillance powers”, which will remain controlled by the Regulation of Interception of Communications Act (RICA).

We’re canvassing readers’ opinions about the new Bill here, where you can annotate the text of the full document.

According to Jeffery, two of the major complaints in this area have been addressed in the rewrite.

Firstly, warrants for search and seizure issued under the Bill are subject to the Criminal Procedures Act and not RICA. That means that they can be challenged in court and must be published openly.

Secondly, whistleblowers – who appeared to lack protection under the blanket coverage of the original Bill – will now be covered by the Protected Disclosures Act, which is also currently being amended. Protected Disclosures trumps all other legislation, Jefferey’s said.

A second major concern was that ISPs will be obligated to disclose criminal activity on their networks. That section stands, Jefferey’s says, but ISPs only have to disclose activity they “are aware” of. That could provide the same handy get-out that the Electronic Communications Act contains: if you don’t monitor traffic, you don’t know.

Security professionals shouldn’t be affected by the clauses that relate to criminalising the manufacture and distribution of hardware and software for hacking into systems. Criminal intention will have to be proved before a case can be brought under the rewrite.

Technical advisor on the Bill, Sorel Robertse, told us that the clauses relating to copyright have also been completely removed from the Bill (we haven’t seen this to verify it). Just as important, according to Robertse the RICA processes are also under review at the DOJ, specifically to improve oversight and the activity of the much-criticised RICA judge.

We’re still downloading the full new Bill, which will be introduced into parliament in the next few weeks. More later…

[Picture Source: Christiaan Colen/Flickr]
Adam is the Editorial Director at htxt media. He has been writing about technology for almost two full decades now. In a previous life, he was the editor of PC Format and Digital Camera Shopper in the UK, before going on to work as a freelance journalist for seven years. His work has appeared in or on Stuff, The Guardian, Linux Format, TechRadar, Wired.co.uk, PC Gamer, Green Futures, The Journalist, The Ecologist and The Review. Adam moved to South Africa in 2012 and loves 3D printers, MakerFairs and tech hubs. He hates seafood. None of his friends remember this when cooking.