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Legislators want clampdown on gory social media posts

Published:Thursday | April 13, 2023 | 1:30 AM
Opposition legislator Julian Robinson.
Opposition legislator Julian Robinson.

Lawmakers reviewing the Cybercrimes Act 2015 on Wednesday signalled their intention to insert a provision making it an offence for persons to post online graphic images of the dead and those who suffer serious injuries in accidents.

Social media vloggers and other users occasionally post shocking videos and images of the aftermath of crime and accident scenes online, to the chagrin of many who complain that such actions are repulsive and unfeeling.

Legislator Julian Robinson, who was among members of the Joint Select Committee of Parliament reviewing the act, was the first to raise the issue during Wednesday’s deliberations. He wanted to know whether the sharing of images of mangled accident victims could constitute an offence in the proposed new cybercrimes law.

Robinson bemoaned the propensity of some Jamaicans to upload to social media graphic images of accident victims, which causes severe distress to other persons, especially relatives and friends.

The opposition lawmaker received support from his government counterpart, Senator Kavan Gayle, who argued that while a provision to address the concern was not captured in the bill at this time, consideration should be given to introducing such a clause.

Gayle indicated that there have been concerns by members of the public about the issue.

Committee Chairman Daryl Vaz noted that the posting of images of persons seriously injured or killed had become pervasive in society.

Describing the practice by some as disturbing, Vaz said it was not right for those images to be posted on such platforms.

He suggested that the committee carry out research to ascertain if a provision can be inserted in the bill to try and deter the practice.

Vaz invited the technical team from the Legal Reform Department (LRD) and the Attorney General’s Chambers to mull over the suggestion and return with some ideas as to how this could be included in the cybercrimes legislation.

“I definitely think that if we did not capture this, it would be an injustice in terms of the overall report,” Vaz added.

A representative from the LRD told the committee that further research would be conducted on the matter. However, the technical advisor to the committee noted that at present, only one jurisdiction had provisions in law to address the dissemination of images such as accident victims, among others.