The Government of Guyana is taking its crime fight to the information superhighway and has laid a Cyber Crime Bill in the National Assembly as part of its efforts to tackle online criminal activity.
Minister of Legal Affairs and Attorney General, Basil Williams, laid the Bill and asked that it be sent to a Special Select Committee.
He told the House on Thursday that the Bill seeks to provide legislation to combat cybercrime by creating offences of cybercrime and to provide for penalties, investigation and prosecution of the offences and related matters.
Opposition Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira told the National Assembly that while the Opposition welcomes the Government’s move to have the Bill sent to a Special Select Committee after its first reading, the actual Bill has not been provided to the National Assembly and she found that to be strange.
“There should be a Gazetted version of it in the House”, she made clear, while adding that the PPP is concerned that the Bill is being sent to a Special Select Committee before anyone in the National Assembly has even seen it.
In response to Teixeira’s concerns, the Speaker of the House, Dr. Barton Scotland, explained that the Bill was circulated electronically (via email) to all Members of the House and therefore members should make use of that technology.
“It seems to me that there is no infraction in the Bill being presented to the House as it was and in the recommendation being made as it was, since Honourable members must have their copy, physically with them, I did not say electronically alone, but physically too, before they can sit in the Select Committee to do any work on the Bill”, Speaker Scotland said.
The PPP Chief Whip continued with her concern saying that while she understands that it is the technology age, it should not be assumed that everyone has access to devices which would allow for the document to be opened.
She told the House that she still uses a Blackberry, which has issues opening large documents.
Teixeira waved the device as she complained. Her Blackberry device appeared to be an old model Blackberry Curve.