New crime proposed to tackle fraudulent mobile base stations

The Executive Council has completed its discussions on the computer crime bill amendment, having suggested the establishment of a specific crime for fraudulent mobile base stations.

Fraudulent mobile base stations are employed for malicious and usually illegal purposes, for example hijacking the signals of cellphones nearby.

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 activity, are punishable by imprisonment between one and five years.

The amendment to the computer crime bill aims at synthesizing the city’s cyber security laws in order to strengthen the protection of critical infrastructure operators and, specifically, 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, according to Leong Heng Teng, spokesperson of the Executive Council.

In addition, a specific crime has been proposed to criminalize the violation of occupational secrecy and a heavier penalty has also been introduced in the bill.

The Director of the Judiciary Police (PJ), Sit Chong Meng, said during yesterday’s Executive Council press conference that, in the last two years, fraudulent mobile base station cases have doubled.

According to Sit, in 2017, the PJ only detected seven of these cases. However, in 2018, the number went up to 19.

In Sit’s view, fraudulent mobile base stations represent a serious nuisance to the whole society, to citizens and visitors in Macau.

Sit further explained that currently, in Macau, there is not a specific crime against the operation of fraudulent mobile base stations. Due to that, the PJ has had to use other charges.

The bill is proposed to take effect on December 22, and will cooperate with existing cyber security laws.

Categories Macau