Cybercrime bill proposes up to five-year sentences for criminals

An amendment to the cybercrime law was passed in general terms at the Legislative Assembly (AL) yesterday, meaning that a specific crime of fraudulent mobile base stations will be established once the law comes into effect. Furthermore, the investigation authority will be able to collect evidence from abroad and use it to pursue cybercrime cases in Macau.
According to Secretary for Security Wong Sio Chak, Macau recorded the first case of fraudulent mobile base stations back in November 2014. Since then and until September 2019, the police authority carried out 36 crackdown operations on such crimes, having detained 126 people, 86 of which were mainland Chinese.
Currently, these fraudulent stations mainly target 2G mobile devices. According to Wong’s explanation, although Macau has already dismissed 2G, in certain places such as at the border gates, particularly while tourists or local residents are moving between Macau and Zhuhai borders, there may be moments when passengers receive messages from these stations due to imperfections in the 3G service.
In order to tackle fraudulent mobile base stations both now and in the future, when these stations may start attacking 3G mobile devices, a specific crime is needed.
The amendment proposes a maximum five-year imprisonment or penalty to be applied to criminals who operate fraudulent mobile base stations.
In general, criminals will face three years of imprisonment or equivalent fines. Serious crimes, such as a criminal profiting from an operation, or when a criminal uses the station to transmit illegal advertisements, pornographic content, or illegal gambling activities, are punishable by imprisonment between one and five years.
Wong explained that crimes whose penalties are not clearly stated in the passed bill, will see perpetrators fined in accordance with the general principle of the penal code.
Lawmaker Sulu Sou expressed his concerns over the amendment which proposes mandatorily giving specific individuals access to specific information, even when doing so is not in the interests of a person.
The Secretary explained that a suspect has the right to refuse to provide passwords to relevant computers, and that the suspect’s family members also have the right to refuse. However, Wong affirmed that the cybercrime bill is in absolute accordance with international conventions.
Lawmaker Agnes Lam asked about authorization concerning cloud technology jurisdiction. The Secretary explained that only when a case is related to Macau’s jurisdiction the police authority can approach the data.
Wong explained that obtaining cloud data does not differentiate whether a suspect is a Macau local resident or a non-local person, as long as Macau’s penal code indicates that the Macau government has jurisdiction over the relevant case.
Commenting on the cybercrime bill, Wong stated that the Macau government will obtain any computer data in absolute accordance with international conventions, having remarked that some of the U.S.’s behavior is not in accordance with international convention.
“The U.S. did everything. I can tell everybody,” said Wong. “This is widely known by the world. As a government principal official, I am not afraid to say it here. We do not dare to [breach] international conventions.”
The cybercrime bill amendment also aims to strengthen the protection of critical infrastructure operators, public departments’ computer systems, and also computer systems used by the central government’s organizations in Macau.
If a computer crime is perpetrated against the aforementioned computer systems and data, the penalty will be increased by one-third and the crime will be characterized as a public crime.
In addition, the criminalization of violating occupational secrecy has been proposed in addition to a heavier penalty.
In order to tackle computer crimes which are taking advantage of science and technology, the security authority will gradually improve the scientific and technological level of their equipment. Moreover, the security force will enhance training of investigators to be capable in relevant scientific and technological skills. According to Wong, all police officers have been required to learn computer skills in recent years.
The bill is proposed to take effect on December 22. It now faces detailed scrutiny in the Legislative Assembly.

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