Industry groups, NBA, others back cyber crime bill

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BY EMeka Aginam

While stakeholders in the Nigerian Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector have expressed support for the passage of Cyber crime bill which  seeks  to provide for offense and penalties relating specifically  to cyber crimes  and general computer misuse, the Africa ICT Alliance (AfICTA), has backed the passage of the bill waiting presidential approval in the national assembly.

The endorsements came at the public hearing organized by the House of Representatives Committee on Justice on the proposed legislation held last week in Abuja.

Other institutions including the Nigeria Law Reform Commission, Cyber Security Africa, Nigerian Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Nigerian Information Technology Association of Nigeria, ITAN as well as the Nigerian Computer Society (NCS) also threw their weights behind the bill.

The bills
Accordingly, two bills on cybercrime were proposed for consideration at the public hearing but most delegates including AfICTA saw no need for a special cybercrime bill for Northern Nigeria and so supported the discontinuation of the bill to apply to Northern States of Nigeria only. However, the second bill was to apply to Federation of Nigeria and was supported by a vast majority of speakers.

In a presentation backed up by a written memorandum  on a Bill for an Act to amend the Criminal Code Act, CAP C38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 in order to provide for Offense and Penalties relating to Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes, Dr Jimson Olufuye, Chair, Africa ICT Alliance (AfICTA) expressed support for the passage of the Bill with amendments at the public hearing This is the 4th attempt at passing a law on cybercrimes at the National Assembly. I hope that efforts will be made to ensure that the Bill is passed” he said.

While commended the sponsors of the bill, Hon.  Aisha Ahmed (PDP/Adamawa), he lamented that the absence of cyber crime laws in Nigeria  have left a vacuum that has been exploited by criminals.

Best practice
He urged ascension to the Budapest Convention on Cybercrimes with the aim of recognizing the international dimension of cybercrimes and the cross border nature of data

In his opening remarks, Chairman House Committee on Justice, Hon. Ali Ahmad (PDP Kwara), said the bill when passed into law, would curb the activities of website hackers and internet fraudsters, commonly known as the “yahoo boys” in Nigeria. According to Ahmed, the absence of a cyber crime legislation has left  sensitive economic  and security information at the mercy of internet hackers and cyber crime syndicates.

Recommendations of AfICTA
Concerning paragraph 22 (1) of the bill, Olufuye recommended that the title “ Records retention and protection of data by service providers” be replaced with “Data preservation and protection of data by service providers.”

On lawful intercept by law enforcement officer, he recommended that the action of the law enforcement officer be backed up by “judicial authorization”.

“ This is essential, he said,  to avoid any form of abuse of office by any law enforcement  officer and to respect the privacy commitment of service providers” he said.

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