Hours after a man released a video on Sunday saying he would kidnap girls and women in Mandeville, police warned that such threats, even under the guise of pranks, do not immunize the perpetrators from prosecution under cybercrime law.
The man seen in the 55-second TikTok video was arrested on Monday, Manchester Police Chief Shane McCalla confirmed.
“I promise you all, all of you who live in Manchester, that on Monday when school starts I will pick up all the girls. I will drive and take your child,” said the 19-year-old, who is believed to have history of mental illness.
“…The devil needs it for an experiment.”
The alleged creator of the video has not been identified or charged as of press time. He has since been hospitalized.
The head of the Counter-Terrorism and Organized Crime Investigations Branch, Assistant Police Commissioner Anthony McLaughlin, said police take all videos of a threatening nature seriously and will take urgent action.
Under Section 9(1) of the Cybercrime Act, it is an offense for a person to use a computer to send data to another person (whether in the form of a message or otherwise) which are obscene, constitute a threat or are threatening in nature; and intends to cause, or does not care whether sending the data causes annoyance, inconvenience, distress or anxiety, to that person or any other person.
“People who make prank videos can be prosecuted under cybercrime law because one of the things they also do is give others ideas of what they can do. do, and we don’t know what a joke is, so once someone makes a video like that, we take it seriously and we have to treat it as a threat to public safety,” McLaughlin said in a Gleaner interview.
Section 9 (2) of the Cybercrime Act states that an offense is committed under subsection (1) whether or not the actual recipient of the data is the person to whom the offender intended to send the data.
First-time offenders can be fined up to $4 million or a maximum of four years in prison.
McLaughlin said, however, that an appropriate sanction would be up to the court.
The rise of social media has been credited with cybercriminals’ growing influence and access to make threats.
The senior police officer said the trend is worrying for authorities.
“There are people we call social media influencers, and they have a lot of influence, because they have a lot of followers, but one of the things we do is follow those people as well to see if they incite or promote violence, the police will welcome and question them,” McLaughlin said.
“But so far we haven’t had any issues with most social media influencers.”
There were no reports of any kidnapping attacks by the suspect on Monday as it appears business was business as usual in Manchester.
Custos Garfield Green said it was important not to scare children.
Green added, however, that the video should not be taken lightly.
The Custos also implores parents to be vigilant and take precautionary measures to protect their children.
“And I ask that kids don’t trust anyone they don’t know, and remember to yell and ask for help when they see trouble,” Green said.