Chang wants tougher punishment for cybercrimes
Minister of National Security, Dr Horace Chang (third) right, is flocked by (from left) Dr Noel Watson, Chairman, ProTrain, Gail Abrahams, CEO, AMCHAM Jamaica, Fredrik Ekfeldt, Minister Counsellor/Head of Political, Press and Information Section, European Union, Wahkeen Murray, Actg. Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology and Allison Peart, President, AMCHAM Jamaica.
Minister of National Security, Dr Horace Chang challenged lawmakers to consider the principle of universal access as a measure for the punishment of criminals involved in cybercrime, as they finalise details of the Data Protection Bill.
Chang stated his beliefs during his keynote address earlier this week at the Regional Data Protection Conference, which is being hosted jointly by the American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM), Jamaica, and e-Biz ProTrain, at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston.
Internet-related crimes have been trending both globally and locally, more so in Western Jamaica through scamming and very recently there was an upsurge in cybercrime through Multi Link facilities.
The security minister noted that apart from swindling people of their earnings, monies garnered from these activities provide funding for other major crimes, including the killing of individuals. He noted that the activities are patterned off global trends and since punishment is severe in other jurisdictions, similar measures should be adopted.
“How we use data going forward, to include the access to sensitive information within specific and defined contexts, must play a role in Jamaica’s modern crime fighting. Where criminals use an individual’s sensitive information to perpetrate crime, the security forces must be able to access said information to investigate and subsequently prosecute these offenders,” said Chang.
“In Jamaica, we observe how criminals have used an individual’s sensitive information to perpetrate crime. Criminals have infiltrated data-heavy sectors to illegally access information from vulnerable platforms and defraud citizens of millions.”
He continued: “The Data Protection Bill is one of the Government’s initiatives in responding to this challenge with robust, balanced legislation. The Bill is currently being reviewed at the Joint Select Committee. Once passed, it will establish a central national database to facilitate the securing of personal data of individuals.”
The Bill is geared at securing ‘sensitive personal data’ such as genetic, DNA or biometrics, racial or ethnic origin, sex life, physical or mental health or condition, political opinions, philosophical and religious beliefs, trade union membership, or the commission or alleged commission of any offense.
Members of the Joint Select Committee are going through the Bill and Chang urged members to “examine the principle of universal access”.
He posited: “Are we going in the right direction … maybe we should be looking at what is required, what is abuse of this data rather than to be so tight with the data management.”
He explained that Jamaicans have become major players in transnational crime and are now benefitting from expertise gained in other jurisdictions.
“Computer experts have become the modern mafia network … not only in Jamaica, but Jamaicans linking with criminals on the other side, in Europe,” said Chang, noting that they’re sometimes challenged by the judicial process.
“The punishment should reflect the type of society we’re in … so someone who finds himself, if he goes into a bank and holds up the teller, you’re likely to get 10 years because it’s a gun offense, a major offense. So a man found guilty of scamming should be given 20 years and no access to a cellphone or a computer,” he added.
The two-day conference, which ends today, is addressing wide range of data security concerns, as well as providing information and solutions regarding the activation of the General Data Production Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union (EU) this year. “Today’s conference is timely, it’s going to help us to deal with these issues,” said Allison Peart, President, AMCHAM Jamaica, while delivering opening remarks. She noted that every 44 seconds there is breach of people’s personal information by cyber criminals and advised persons to be more aware. “Criminals are watching you, you need to become aware,” she said.
Dr Noel Watson, Chairman, e-Biz ProTrain, gave full endorsement.
He said: “We’re hoping that by the end of this conference everyone will be exposed to information that prevents them from losing funds, reputation, jobs.”