The South African Parliament has called for international cooperation to address the challenges posed by cybercrimes and cyberattacks through legislative instruments, while waiting for the first legal binding convention aimed at combatting these crimes to be finalised.

The Deputy Chief Whip of the National Assembly, Ms Doris Dlakude, supported the Standing Committee on Peace and International Security’s draft resolution on cyberattacks and cybercrimes during a Forum of Women Parliamentarians meeting.

Ms Dlakude informed the forum that the impact of cybercrime extends far beyond the economic loss. “It also degrades trust amongst internet users and damages the reputation of public and private service providers. It is important to ensure that the fight against cybercrime must not be used to dismantle human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to privacy. Therefore countries should strive for a proper balance between security concerns and respect for human rights,” she said.

She also detailed how cyberattacks and cybercrimes pose significant threats to citizens, businesses, state institutions and the global economy. “One industry group estimated that the damages incurred by all forms of cybercrime during the course of recovery and mediation totaled $6 trillion in 2021 and could reach $10.5 trillion annually by 2025,” she said.

Ms Dlakude described how South Africa has also been affected by cybercrime and cyberattacks. “In 2021, we had the third-highest number of cybercrime victims worldwide. This escalation of cybercrime in South Africa elicited legislative intervention in the form of the Cybercrimes Act and the Protection of Personal Information Act,” she said. These Acts made the country's data protection and cybersecurity laws compliant with international norms.

Furthermore, the Cybercrimes Act, among other laws, makes it unlawful to transmit damaging data, such as data containing explicit photographs or which calls for or threatens physical harm or property damage. The Act also makes it a crime to commit data forgery, cyber extortion, and computer fraud and theft of incorporeal property.

In addition, the Protection of Personal Information Act works to protect the privacy of individuals whose personal data is processed by both public and commercial organisations.

“We remain hopeful that these remedial measures I have shared will yield positive results in our fight against these attacks. In conclusion, South Africa supports the adoption of the draft resolution,” she said.

Faith Ndenze
15 March 2023