The free-for-all often found on social networks and Web sites’ comments sections will no longer be tolerated in the tiny island nation of Grenada, which last week approved a new electronics crimes bill stipulating fines and jail time for various online acts. These include “offensive comments”: Police will file any reported complaints, and if a judge decrees that the comments qualify as abusive, the person found guilty of making them could be fined as much as $37,000 or spend three years in prison.
What’s the Big Idea?
Grenada is the first Caribbean country to approve legislation that attempts to impose some form of civility on an Internet environment that some see as impolite and uncouth. Legal affairs minister Elvin Nimrod says, “We have problems when some use the technology to engage in mischief…We have to put structures in place to ensure that persons and, in some cases, companies and characters are not tarnished.” The bill also sets down punishments for cyberstalking and identity theft, and includes a verdict of up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $111,000 for persons convicted of distributing child pornography. “People have to act responsibly to others,” says Nimrod.