South Africa’s cyberpolice are pushing new legislation that includes mandatory ISP reporting for user piracy and consequences will never be the same

Downloading and distributing pirated and other no-no content is about to become a precarious prospect in South Africa, with the introduction of ISP obligations to narc on its users about that sort of thing.

The new Cybercrimes Bill defines a number of new illegal online and data offences like hacking, fraud and extortion, threats of violence, and the uploading of, uh, “intimate images” without consent. Those are obvious enough, but don’t miss the otherwise kind of ambiguous clause about the “theft of incorporeal property”, because that’s the one about copyright infringement.

The common law offence of theft must be interpreted so as not to exclude the theft of incorporeal property.

That includes movies, TV shows, games, music, software, and everything else previously subject to excuses like “but it’s digital, so it’s not even, like, real“.

According to the legislation, ISPs are required to inform the South African Police Services of these offences within 72 hours, or be liable to a fine of up to R50,000. Whether or not ISPs will actually comply without a subpoena is a different matter entirely, but I’d expect that potential financial penalty is a compelling incentive to waive user confidentiality.


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