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Proposed law on "cybercrime" could violate freedom of expression

Different national and international journalistic organizations have demonstrated their concern to the bill promoted by the Office of the Attorney General to adapt the Criminal Code to new criminal behaviors derived from the use of computer systems
  • EFE

Different national and international journalistic organizations have demonstrated their concern to the bill promoted by the Office of the Attorney General to adapt the Criminal Code to new criminal behaviors derived from the use of computer systems, simplified as "cybercrime."

Among the proposals presented to the National Assembly are that "who without the authorization of the recipient initiates the transmission of multiple messages from or through a computer system or electronic for the purpose of deceiving, confusing, causing damage or destruction of a computer system shall be punished with imprisonment of four to six years."

In turn establishes that "who without authorization seizes or uses data stored in a computer or electronic system totally or partially, will also be punished with imprisonment of four to six years."

However, the Forum of Journalists for Freedom of Expression and Information (Forum) and the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) have shown some doubts as to how this law can be interpreted in case it is approved and sanctioned by the Panamanian state.

"Despite the fact that the content of the project has 'apparent good intentions', they are derived from rules that if become law would violate the freedoms of the press and expression, not only of journalists, but also of citizens," published the Forum through their social networks.

The group adds that, for the supposed implementation of the Convention on Cybercrime (Budapest 2001), other countries have discussed what measures such as those they want to implement can be turned into "censorship mechanisms, and as a consequence affect the exercise of freedom of expression and information."

Roberto Rock, chairman of the IAPA Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, said he would remain attentive to the discussion of the reform, "in the face of concerns that punishment could harm other rights inherent in the liberties of press and expression."

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