Lagos – The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has urged the media to familiarise itself with the contents of the Cybercrime Act as it affected practice of the profession.
The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, gave the advice in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Sunday.
Danbatta said that familiarising with the contents of the law would ensure that the professionals did not fall under its punishment.
The NCC boss said that the Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention, Detection. Response, Investigation and Prosecution of Cybercrimes and other Related Matters) Act 2015 was an Act of Parliament, which had become law.
He said that the Act was assented to by the former President Goodluck Jonathan, on May 15, 2015 and reads:
“It is therefore imperative for those in the New Media to familiarise themselves with the contents of the law as it affects their practice.
“The Act does not encumber the freedom of expression as enshrined in the constitution; rather, it seeks to protect those whose freedom may be damaged by the freedom freely expressed by others.
“Section 24 of the Act deals with Cyber stalking and also prescribes punishment for `Any person who knowingly or intentionally sends a message or other matter by means of computer systems or network’, which, among others, he knows to be false.
“This might be for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred, ill will or needless anxiety to another or causes such a message to be sent.
“The person commits an offence under this Act and shall be liable, on conviction, to a fine of not more than N7 million or imprisonment for a term not more than three years or to both such fine and imprisonment.’’
Danbatta said that the Act shared out responsibilities to the various Information and Communication Technology (ICT) stakeholders, including cybercafé operators, financial institutions and telecom service providers.
“Section 38(1) expected a service provider to keep all traffic data and subscriber information as may be prescribed by the relevant authority, for the time being, responsible for the regulation of communication services in Nigeria, for a period of two years.
“Part 11 &111 of the Act deal with Designation of certain computer systems or networks as critical national infrastructure and offences and penalties for damaging such critical infrastructure, respectively.’’
Danbatta said it might be interesting to juxtapose this part of the Act with Section 1 of the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act of 1975.
“The Criminal Justice Act provides stiffer penalties for damages to telephone communication works, electricity transmission lines and oil pipelines and enables armed patrols to arrest any person committing an offence under this Act.
“It will be interesting to juxtapose the two Acts and see how they work together to protect telecommunications infrastructure.
“Therefore, media professionals should help to canvass the position of the Law and bring needed attention to the severity of the offence and how willful destruction of these facilities impact negatively on the country in all ramifications,’’ the NCC boss said.
In the statement, the commission said it was aware of the pervasive influence of the Social Media and had responded by setting up an Online and Special Publications Unit, which was domiciled in the Public Affairs Department.
The commission said part of the responsibilities of the unit was to engage those who employ the New Media on their platform to publish the commission’s activities online and in real time.
According to the commission, it streams its activities live on social media platforms such as twitter, Facebook and YouTube, in order to reach the online community.