Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo is denying suggestions that the Parliamentary Opposition supported the insertion of the controversial clause 18 in the Cybercrime bill.
Clause 18 of the Cybercrime Bill outlines that persons commit an offence of sedition when they “attempt to bring into hatred or excite disaffection towards the government.”
These provisions have, in fact, excited worry among social media users who have recently taken to that medium in their numbers to register concerns that their freedom of expression would be trampled.
According to Jagdeo, the initial purpose of the Bill was to protect Guyanese and their children from the dangers of cyberspace.
Instead, he explained, the Bill has been converted by the Government to one that, besides the original purpose, protects their [Government’s] own interests.
“This is why the entire Guyana must fight to ensure that this retrograde step to charge people for sedition, an archaic offence, because of what they say, which can cause disaffection with the Government… This provision has no place in a democratic, in a free Guyana, in a Guyana where free speech is an important part of our democracy where freedom of expression is defined and protected by our constitution,” he stated.
Laid in the National Assembly since 2016, the Cyber Crimes Bill had catered for, inter alia: illegal access to a computer system; illegal interception; illegal data interference; illegal acquisition of data; illegal system interference; unauthorised receiving or granting of access to computer data; computer related forgery; computer related fraud; offences affecting critical infrastructure; identity related offences; child pornography; child luring and violation of privacy among a sleuth of other offences.
A Special Select Committee, comprising of Government and Opposition members, had been working on the bill for the past few years and their report on the bill was presented recently.
Jagdeo noted However that PPP “members of the Select Committee that met on several occasions to consider this bill were there and were absent sometimes” while outlining that their “presence alone, just being named to that Committee does not elevate this to support of the PPP.”