DigitalPR With Celestine Achi: New media and The 10 Things you must know about Nigeria’s Cybercrime Act 2015

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New media and The 10 Things you must know about Nigeria’s Cybercrime Act 2015

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Digital media has been touted as new and exciting platform for international development. The Internet, cell phones and other social technologies have been used to strengthen communities by making information readily available and by empowering the voiceless. 

Internet and communications technology is undoubtedly a tool that can be harnessed for positive social change, but as with every other technological advancement, ICT is a double-edged sword. As access to new media increases, there is growing concern among academics, activists and technology professionals that real-world issues of privacy, security, conflict and crime are moving into the digital sphere more quickly than they can be monitored or addressed.

For digital advocates and new media users, the major areas of concern has always been the double edged issue of government control of freedom of expression and the legal challenges of an increasingly global Internet community and the ways in which some private citizens are responding to the issues of cyber-crime.

Currently, the term cyber crime encompasses (but is not limited to) the following: terrorism, online fraud, espionage, child pornography, stock manipulation, extortion, piracy and personal attacks. Tracking the growth of these crimes is a difficult task for law enforcement agencies, since much of the illegal internet activity worldwide goes unreported, but the instances continue to multiply.

The Nigerian Communication Commision has however recently emphasized the Commissions mission at the Social Media Week Lagos as a move to sensitize the public on the Cybercrime Act of 2015.

According to Mr. Ojobo, a special social media unit was created by the EVC to publish the activities of the NCC online on social media as part of the Commission's drive to sensitize the public on the Act.

Responding to reports that the NCC was planning to regulate platforms such as WhatsApp, Viber and so on, Ojobo stated that traditional telephony are under threat from OTT operators. He further added that the report recommended that telecoms operators innovate and develop business models that will enable them compete favorably, allaying fears that the Commisssion was indeed considering regulation of the platforms.

Panelists on the NCC showcase, which was themed What Does New Media Have To Do With The Cybercrimes Act, stated that crimes can be committed by people who go to organizations and use the network of those organizations to commit crimes. They revealed that such cases can be tackled if such organizations start to register users who log on to their networks.

Furthermore the panelists also stated that New Media has brought on a lot of regulatory and ethical issues adding that the situation brought about the need for the cybercrime act to combat crimes that can be committed via digital means, adding that the act has also granted security agencies right to monitor certain data and information.

They also revealed that the act is also meant to protect tech infrastructure, adding that the acts also states the kind of information ISPs are allowed to give, with the act also mandating ISPs to put additional checks for minors because of pornography.


The NCC is the leading regulatory body on all things communication in Nigeria. 



10 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT NIGERIA’S CYBERCRIME ACT 2015
Courtesy: lawpadi.com

This is a high-level overview of what the Cybercrime Act 2015 provides, and things we should be aware of.

1. Gives the President the power to designate certain computer systems, networks and information infrastructure vital to the national security of Nigeria or the economic and social well-being of its citizens, as constituting Critical National Information Infrastructure, and to implement procedures, guidelines, and conduct audits in furtherance of that. Examples of systems, which could be designated as such, include transport, communication, banking etc. To find out more about what such a plan should look like, you can check the USA’s National Infrastructure Protection Plan here, or the European Union’s here.

2. Prescribes the death penalty for an offence committed against a system or network that has been designated critical national infrastructure of Nigeria that results in the death of an individual (amongst other punishments for lesser crimes).

3. Hackers, if found guilty, of unlawfully accessing a computer system or network, are liable to a fine of up to N10 million or a term of imprisonment of 5 years (depending on the purpose of the hack). The same punishment is also meted out to Internet fraudsters who perpetuate their acts either by sending electronic messages, or accessing and using data stored on computer systems.

4. Makes provision for identity theft, with the punishment of imprisonment for a term of not less than 3 years or a fine of not less than N7 million or to both fine and imprisonment. An example of identity fraud would be the individual who impersonated Chief Bola Tinubu on Facebook and was apprehended recently by the police.

5. Specifically creates child pornography offences, with punishments of imprisonment for a term of 10 years or a fine of not less than N20 million or to both fine and imprisonment, depending on the nature of the offence and the act carried out by the accused persons. Offences include, amongst others: producing, procuring, distributing, and possession of child pornography.

6. Outlaws Cyber-stalking and Cyber-bullying and prescribes punishment ranging from a fine of not less than N2 million or imprisonment for a term of not less than 1 year or to both fine and imprisonment, up to a term of not less than 10 years or a fine of not less than N25 million or to both fine and imprisonment; depending on the severity of the offence.

7. Prohibits cybersquatting, which is registering or using an Internet domain name with bad faith intent to profit from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else, or to profit by selling to its rightful owner. Individuals who engage in this are liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of not less than 2 years or a fine of not less thanN5 million or to both fine and imprisonment.

8. Forbids the distribution of racist and xenophobic material to the public through a computer system or network (e.g. Facebook and Twitter), it also prohibits the use of threats of violence and insulting statements to persons based on race, religion, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin. Persons found guilty of this are liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of not less than 5 years or to a fine of not less than N10million or to both fine and imprisonment.

9. Mandates that service providers shall keep all traffic data and subscriber informationhaving due regard to the individual’s constitutional Right to privacy, and shall take appropriate measures to safeguard the confidentiality of the data retained, processed or retrieved.

10. Allows for the interception of electronic communication, by way of a court order by a Judge, where there are reasonable grounds to suspect that the content of any electronic communication is reasonably required for the purposes of a criminal investigation or proceedings.

The above is just a high-level overview of certain interesting provisions in the newly passed legislation. The Act itself contains 43 sections, and is a very important piece of legislation to foster the development of the nascent ICT sector in Nigeria. You can read the full provisions of the Act here – CyberCrime (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) Act 2015

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