NCC urges media practitioners to study ‎Cybercrime Act

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SOCIAL Media Week Lagos 2016 has provided the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) opportunity to explain its regulatory postures with regards to social media, freedom of information (FoI), and the Cybercrime Act 2015 implementation. ‎

Prof. Umar GarbaDanbatta, NCC’s EVC who was represented by Tony Ojobo, director, Public Affairs, while intervening on the matters, described ‎the Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention, Detection. Response, Investigation and Prosecution of Cybercrimes and other Related Matters) Act 2015 as an Act of Parliament which has become law since it was accented to by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in May 15 2015.

Danbatta said that the debate generated by the Act demands that New Media practitioners familiarize themselves with the contents of the law as it affects their practice.

‘The Act,’ he said ‘does not encumber the freedom of expression as enshrined in The Constitution but seeks to protect those whose freedom may be damaged by the freedom freely expressed by others’.

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Section 24 of the Act, he emphasised, 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, 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: Commits an offence under this Act and shall be liable on conviction to a fine of not more than N7,000, 000. 00 or imprisonment for a term not more than 3 years or to both such fine and imprisonment’.‎

He reiterated that the Act shares out responsibilities to the various stakeholders including, cybercafé operators, financial institutions and telecom service providers. For instance, Section 38(1) expects 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 2 years.

“Part 11 &111 of the Act deals with Designation of certain computer systems or networks as critical national infrastructure as well as offences and penalties for damaging such critical infrastructure.”

‘It may be interesting to juxtapose this part of the Act with Section 1 of the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act of 1975 (An Act to provide stiffer penalties for damages to telephone communication works, electricity transmission lines and oil pipelines and to enable armed patrols arrest any person committing an offence under this Act) and see how they work together to protect telecommunications infrastructure.

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According to the NCC Boss, media practitioners 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.

‘Let me assure this august gathering that the Commission is aware of the pervasive influence of the Social Media and has responded by setting up an Online and Special Publications Unit which is domiciled in the Public Affairs Department. This is beside the New Media and Information Security, and the IT Department. Part of the responsibilities of the Online and Special Publications Unit is to engage the New Media Practitioners in order to use their platform to publish the Commission’s activities online and real time.

‘At most of our events, the Commission streams its activities live on social media platforms such as twitter, Facebook and YouTube in order to reach the online Community’, the EVC said.

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