Antigua: Warning issued about online behaviour

Antigua Observer:- The relevant authorities have said there are many online habits that fall under the Electronic Crimes Act, and that it is only a matter of time before people start using the law to seek justice.

Attorney-at-law Jan Peltier said more defamation and slander have been taking place online and on social media sites, and that when persons become more aware of the power given to them to fight such attacks via the Act, there will be more persons seeking redress through the law.

Peltier said of the Electronic Crimes Act of 2013, “Section 4 is about sending offensive messages through communication services. If information is offensive or threatening, false, causing annoyance, inconvenience, damage, obstruction, insult, injury, intimidation, enmity, hatred or ill will, it is an offense. If you think about that, it covers just about anything.”

“If it is a summary conviction, meaning, in the Magistrate Court, the penalty is a fine of $200,000, or three years in jail or both. And, if it is a conviction on indictment, meaning the High Court, it is $500,000, or seven years in jail or both. “

Information communication technology expert, Yves Ephraim also offered more information on offenses that fall under the Act.

“Things like cyberbullying is covered under our Act, revenge porn is under the Act and also what is called catfishing (where you assume somebody else’s identity for the intention of tricking somebody into having a relationship online.”

Counsellor Koren Norton said persons suffer damage when persons abuse information that was sent personally to them.

“Nobody has a right to put somebody else’s picture or words or stuff out there, if they sent it to them privately.  So, by transmitting it you are destroying that person’s life. You are destroying their reputation, you are destroying the public’s perception of it. And the impact of that, you just can’t turn it back. Hopefully, at one point, the person can rebuild their life but Antigua is such a small society.”

Norton said in her line of work, she has encountered persons who have gotten themselves into unfavourable decisions because they chose to act impulsively. She advised persons to take “five seconds” to think before they act and to consider whether their decisions will take them where they want to go in life.

She encouraged persons to act responsibly online, especially in light of previous occurrences where persons have been subject to negative reactions based on online postings.

The three were speaking as guests on Saturday’s “Market Place”.

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