Opposition Leader Bishop Joseph Atherley wants the law to regulate what people say on social media.
He argued that Barbadians have been using social media to defame each other without fear of legal action being taken and called for more stringent penalties to be enforced.
“I think that we have to consider when we talk about law reform, more meaningful legislation and more potent legislation to regulate the use of social media. People in Barbados are everyday defamed by means of social media. I dread the day when my day comes, but I believe inevitably it will come,” Atherley said today in Parliament during debate on the Law Revision and Law Reform Bill 2018.
“Defamation laws must be made appropriately applicable to the new tech environment or else people will say what they will about people, damage their reputation, destroy their families and interfere with their career progress and all kinds of stuff
. . . we have to make sure that the laws which govern defamation are more appropriately applicable to this situation.”
He also said Barbados’ laws needed to be updated to properly address cybercrime.
Atherley recalled an anecdote in which a merchant complained that he had been hacked, resulting in him losing an entire day of business.
“The cross-border nature of crime today is known to us. Crime is multi-faceted and it is multi-dimensional . . . and all of these aspects of crime manifest themselves by reference to the cyber world and the use of technology and therefore in an effort to counter that, we have to make sure that we have the proper legislation in place so that the tech-related crime can be properly addressed,” he insisted.
“So it is not only a matter of incorporating the use of technology in the dispensation of justice and the various processes related to our justice system, but it is also the matter of providing the type of legislation to better counter cybercrime and that is a reality.”
Cybercrime, including the use of social media to threaten, cause harm and distress or spread obscene material, is currently regulated by the Computer Misuse Act of 2005.