FG seeks fresh legislation to amend 2015 Cybercrime Act
The Federal Government is in talks with a cyber security firm on a new legislation that will substitute the present 2015 Nigeria Cybercrime Act and adequately address the menace of the increasing cybercrime, a source told business a.m.
According to the source, the new legislation will provide practical solutions to many of the loopholes discovered in the Nigeria Cybercrime Act, which affected its capacity to combat the menace of cybercrime.
One of the leading cyber security firms is already working on a document that will address some of the issues that were not addressed by the Nigeria Cybercrime Act 2015, with the whole idea of making the country’s Internet space safer, the source said.
The major highlights of the Nigeria Cybercrime Act 2015 include the provision of penalties to the growing spate of Internet offenses in the country as well as jail sentences on anyone found guilty of committing cybercrime and allied offenses. It was expected to provide measures to keep the Internet safer rather than merely providing prosecution basics, which many industry experts have vehemently flawed.
“The Act was a step in a right direction; at least it provides the basis for criminal prosecution. However, it is far below what Nigeria needs to address cybercrime, » Rex Mafiana, CEO at FPG Technologies told business a.m.
He said there should be something like National Information Act that would be encompassing, providing every detail needed to address certain cyber security challenges, which the present Act has failed to address.
According to Rex, critical information such as personal identification data such as health records, Bank Verification Numbers (BVN), investors’ information on stakes in companies and other confidential data ought to be protected under any proposed Act, which Nigeria must develop.
Alex Mouka, one-time chairman of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Lagos Branch defined the Nigeria Cybercrime Act 2015 as a radical piece of legislation but structurally deficient.
“As a lawyer, when I reviewed the Act, I asked myself who was responsible for this legislation. I am sorry to say it is one of the irresponsible legal legislations I have ever reviewed. It is structurally deficient.”
With the ravaging effects of cybercrime and the many unreported cases in Nigeria, the primary objective of the new legislation would be to provide Nigerians an optimal level of protection that will guarantee the confidence while transacting online businesses without further fear or intimidation.
Industry analysts believe that a strong collaboration with some of the key ministries like the National Security Adviser (NSA), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) will present a holistic view. The NCC as the telecom industry regulator oversee the operations of the telecom companies in Nigeria, such a role makes it have information on critical infrastructure will need to be protected from cybercriminals.
According to analysts, the proposed new legislation must shy away from using specific definitions, which is most likely to cause confusions and provide room for cybercriminals to devise other strategies of committing crimes outside the specific definitions of the law.
Providing an insight on specific and general functions of the new legislation, an analyst made a case: “For instance, if the new legislation stipulates that anybody that defrauds anybody using the PoS is liable to pay N500,000 fine. And in the future, Nigeria doesn’t use PoS but an offender uses another means to commit fraud, how would that person be prosecuted. Has such a person committed an offense because the law said using PoS?”
Another fundamental issue the new legislation must address is the expertise of the local enforcement agents in prosecuting cybercrime and related cases. Analysts said making the Federal High Courts as the exclusive court to handle issues arising from cybercrime offenses would create too much workload for the specified courts and would affect the speed of adjudication of cases.
Furthermore, the proposed new legislation should explicitly define Cyber Security Fund as the government needs to fully articulate this and collaborate with the citizens to have a proper framework as to the workings of the new Act.
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