Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Nigeria Cybercrime Bill Allows Govt To Spy on Nigerians, Prescribes Death Sentence For Hackers

A draft law empowering security agents to intercept, record and seize electronic communications among individuals has been crafted  by the Federal Government and sent to the National Assembly.

Dubbed the Cybercrime Bill and submitted to the National Assembly last week by President Goodluck Jonathan, the legislation will allow authorities, particularly during criminal investigations, to intercept and record personal emails, text messages, instant messages, voice mails and multimedia messages, if enacted into law.

The stiffest penalty for hacking of Critical National Information Infrastructure, is death sentence.
However, if the offence does not result in death but leads to "grievous bodily injury," the offender shall be liable to imprisonment for a minimum term of 15 years.

If found guilty of cyber terrorism, the penalty that awaits an offender is life imprisonment, while production and distribution of child pornography fetches at least a 10-year jail term or N20 million fine for any person convicted.

The bill specifies 10 years in jail, N15million fine or both for paedophiles.
The bill, whose operations can be invoked without recourse to  issuing of warrants where the need for "verifiable urgency" is established allows security agencies to ask telecommunication companies to conduct surveillance on individuals, and release user data to authorities.
If, however, there is no urgency, an ex parte order of a court will suffice before a law enforcement officer conducts a cybercrime investigation.

Section 22 of the bill,
under the sub-heading: 'Interception of electronic communications,' provides that: "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, a judge may on the basis of information on oath:

"(a) order a service provider, through the application of technical means to collect, record, permit or assist competent authorities with the collection or recording of content data associated with specified communications transmitted by means of a computer system; or

"(b) authorise a law enforcement officer to collect or record such data through application of technical means."

The bill defines "electronic communication" that could be intercepted to include "communication in electronic format, instant messages, short message service (SMS), e-mail, video, voice mails, multimedia message service (MMS), fax and pager."

ThisDay Newspaper