Eleven WhatsApp web tricks you probably don't know

Eleven WhatsApp web tricks you probably don’t know. Image credit: AdobeStock

Sending these WhatsApp messages is now a criminal offence

Sending a revenge porn text on WhatsApp or any of these categories of messages could land you in jail under a new law that has been passed.

Eleven WhatsApp web tricks you probably don't know

Eleven WhatsApp web tricks you probably don’t know. Image credit: AdobeStock

If you send certain categories of WhatsApp messages or texts via any other social media or online platform you can now land up jail for up to 15 years under new cybercrime laws that have just been passed in South Africa.

This includes revenge porn and any other violence inciting messages.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has just signed into law the Cybercrimes Bill, which seeks to bring South Africa’s cybersecurity laws in line with the rest of the world.

Ahmore Burger-Smidt, Director and Head of Data Privacy Practice at Werksmans Attorneys said in a statement that the Bill, which is now an Act of Parliament criminalises the disclosure of harmful data messages.

Some examples of harmful WhatsApp and other data messages include:

  • Those which incite violence or damage to property;
  • Those which threaten persons with violence or damage to property; and
  • Those which contain an intimate image.

Additional offences in terms of the new law include cyber fraud, forgery, extortion and theft of incorporeal property. 

“The unlawful and intentional access of a computer system or computer data storage medium is also considered an offence along with the unlawful interception of, or interference with data,” Burger-Smidt said.

This creates a broad ambit for the application of the Cybercrimes Act which defines “data” as electronic representations of information in any form. 

“It is interesting to note that the Act does not define “cybercrime” but rather creates a number of offences such as those canvassed above,” she said.

It’s therefore now more important than ever to think twice and consider whether a WhatsApp message falls into any of these categories, before clicking send.

“There is no doubt that the Cybercrimes Act will be of particular importance to electronic communications service providers and financial institutes as it imposes obligations upon them to assist in the investigation of cybercrimes, for example by furnishing a court with certain particulars which may involve the handing over of data or even hardware on application,” she said.

According to the new law electronic communications service providers and financial institutions have a duty to report, without undue delay and where feasible, cyber offences within 72 hours of becoming aware of them. A failure to do so may lead to the imposition of a fine not exceeding R50 000.

A person who is convicted of an offence under the Cybercrimes Act is liable to a fine or to imprisonment for a period of up to fifteen years or to both a fine and such imprisonment as may be ordered in terms of the offence.

She said it would be interesting to note the impact the new Act will have on businesses, especially considering its overlap with the Protection of Personal Information Act 4 of 2013 (POPIA. POPIA, which deals with personal information, aims to give effect to the right to privacy by protecting individuals against the unlawful processing of personal information. 

“One of the conditions for lawful processing in terms of POPIA is security safeguards which prescribes that the integrity and confidentiality of personal information must be secured by a person in control of that information. This is prescribed by POPIA in order to prevent loss, damage or unauthorised access to or destruction of personal information. POPIA also creates a reporting duty on persons responsible for processing personal information whereby they must report any unlawful access to personal information (data breach) to the Information Regulator within a reasonable period of time,” she said