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Digital Rights: Surveillance, Interception Must Be Lawful- PIN

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Participants at a workshop on Digital Rights and Cybercrimes have called for increased capacity building for law enforcement agencies on handling issues related to cybercrimes in Nigeria.

The workshop, organized by Paradigm Initiative in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Justice recently, focused primarily on section 24 and 38 of the Nigeria’s Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) Act 2015 and called for respect of the citizens’ digital right especially with regards digital surveillance and call interceptions.

According to Adeboye Adegoke, program manager at Paradigm Initiative, “the focus on the two sections was deliberate. We focused on those sections because they are prone to be misapplied to infringe on the digital rights and freedoms of citizens, especially freedom of expression and privacy online.

“Section 24, in particular, has already been cited in more than ten documented cases of alleged illicit arrest and abuse of rights. Provisions of Sections 24 and 38 of the Act were examined at the workshop as they are believed to be threats to digital rights in Nigeria.  Section 24 poses a threat to freedom of expression online while section 38 gives security agencies the right to hold on to citizen’s information, thereby violating their rights to privacy of their information online.”

The workshop which provided an opportunity for participants to review cases of arrests related to sections 24 and 38 of the Act and the effects of these arrests on citizens. Participants were drawn from the Nigerian Police Force and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from various states in Nigeria and the FCT.

Mr ‘Gbenga Sesan, executive director, Paradigm Initiative while introducing participants to Digital Rights, highlighted the importance of the internet to democratic participation in Nigeria, and stressed that though rights in the digital realm exist, they are not respected. He spoke on the provisions in the Cybercrimes Act 2015 that give law enforcement agents access to citizen’s data and how these provisions are prone to abuse.

He illustrated with examples of ways in which files in government offices and Nigerian courts are currently being handled.

According to him, “Surveillance and Interception must be lawful, with clearly stated procedures and clear judicial oversight to avoid abuse. Respect for human rights in the day to day activities of law enforcement officers helps to foster citizen and security agency cooperation. It is well known that countries that focus on innovation rather than clampdowns avail themselves huge economic opportunities. This can be seen through the relationship between the GDP of those countries and the level of internet penetration and internet freedom”.

Also speaking to participants at the training, Mr. George-Maria Tyendezwa, head, Computer Crime Prosecution Unit at Federal Ministry of Justice stressed that we must differentiate between libel and slander from cyberstalking, and that one-time acts don’t constitute stalking mentioned in Section 24.

He advised anyone that feels defamed not to use the apparatus of the state to oppress anyone but to go to court for remedy

According to Tope Ogundipe, director of Programs at Paradigm Initiative, “we believe that law enforcement agents who participated in the workshop are better equipped in handling and managing cases involving Cybercrime as a result of this workshop. Our objective is to ensure that the Cybercrimes Act 2015 does not become an instrument of oppression in the hands of the powerful using security agencies as tools.”

The workshop was attended by operatives from Abuja, Bauchi, Gombe, Nasarawa, Rivers, Kano, Lagos, Enugu and the FCT.

Participants at the recent workshop on Digital Rights and Cybercrimes by Paradigm Initiative in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Justice recently.

 

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NCC to Order Telcos to Refund Illegal Deductions from Subscribers

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Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), said it may soon order telecommunication operators to refund illegal deductions from subscribers.

 

Prof Umar Danbatta, executive vice chairman, EVC, NC, said the illegal deductions were made in five months.

 

He said 58,965,478 total Active Broadband Subscription on 3G and 4G platforms was recorded as at November 2018.

 

Danbatta explained that Internet subscription grew from 107,547,723 in October 2018, to 108,897,679 in November 2018, while Active Voice Subscriber base grew from 165,239,443 in October 2018 to 169,104,830 in November 2018.

 

The commission also disclosed that Nigeria has exceeded 30 per cent broadband penetration target, as it the record stood at 30.9 per cent in November 2018.

 

Danbatta who was represented by Sunday Dare, executive commissioner, Stakeholders Management, said Nigeria would achieve close to 50 per cent broadband penetration by 2019.

 

According to him, contributions of Telecommunications and Information Services to GDP from Q1 to Q3 2018 were N4.7 trillion, according to figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

 

In the last quarter (Q3, 2018), the amount stood at N1.5 trillion, according to Q3 figures reported by the NBS.

 

Danbatta said that Telecommunications and Information Services Sector grew by 14.7 per cent from Q1, 2017 to Q3, 2018.

 

The NCC has also promised to reduce call masking across the nation by 80 per cent before 2020, noting that about N6 billion is lost yearly to call masking

 

The executive vice chairman disclosed that tracking technology has made the commission to reduce call masking by 21per cent as at August 2018, even as nine offenders have been arrested.

 

He said the commission had in the last six months, took proactive measures through investigation and efforts to reduce incidents of SIM boxing in the country by 32 per cent.

 

According to Dambatta, call masking/refilling occurs when an international call is terminated in Nigeria as a local number.

 

He stressed that perpetrators have ulterior motive of profiting from price differentials between international and local calls termination rates.

 

He added that a SIM box has the capacity to receive and transmit calls undetected.

 

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Broadband: Danbatta Reaffirms Commitment to Infrastructure for last-mile connectivity

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L-R: Aremu olajide, chairman, Technical Committee, Reprsentating ALTON Chairman, Mr Emma Okonji, Chairman, Nigeria Information and Communications Technology Reporters Association (NITRA) and Dr. Henry Nkemadu, Deputy Director./ Head, Special Intervention Projects, NCC at the 4th Quarter Seminar/Induction Ceremony of the Nigerian Information Technology Reporter's Association (NITRA) held in Lagos

Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Communications Commission on Friday reemphasized the commissions’ commitment in ensuring the provision of broadband infrastructure across the country to achieve last-mile connectivity.

 

He stated this at the 4th Quarter Seminar/Induction Ceremony of the Nigerian Information Technology Reporter’s Association (NITRA) held in Lagos.

 

The theme of the events was: ‘Achieving Last-Mile Connectivity through Affordable Broadband’.

 

Danbatta, who was represented by Dr. Henry Nkemadu, Deputy Director./ Head, Special Intervention Projects, NCC noted that Nigerian Communications Commission will ensure the provision of broadband infrastructure across the country to achieve last-mile connectivity.

 

He added that Communications Sector is a catalyst that would provide the needed infrastructure that will enable other sectors of Business, Education, Health, Agriculture, Governance, Finance to thrive.

 

According to him, “the Communications Sector provides the infrastructure to enable other infrastructures in the different sectors of Business, Education, Health, Agriculture, Governance, Finance and so on.

 

“The importance of this sector has continued to enhance human capabilities such as healthy life, knowledge, creativity, collaboration, innovation, self-organization and participation in the social, economic and political life of the country as well as impact on economic growth through productivity gains.”

 

He also revealed that the commission’s activities have impacted on efficient improvements in service delivery that enable national development.

 

Danbatta explained that telecommunication acts as an enabler to drive socio-economic growth, developments and modernization across all sectors of the economy.

He added that robust and reliable telecoms service lies on adequate broadband infrastructure which will provide the needed impetus to achieve last mile connectivity.

 

He further stated that the Commission has made plans for massive deployment of 5G infrastructure in the country.

 

He said, “At the Stakeholders Consultative Forum on 5G Readiness and High Altitude Platform Station Technologies in Abuja recently, the Commission announced its plans for massive deployment of infrastructure for the new technology.

 

“5G has the potential to be transformational for communities in Nigeria because of the set high requirements for 5G networks: fast, ubiquitously available services provided by infrastructure deployed across all regions.

 

“The 5G technology has significantly faster speeds and more reliable connections on smartphones and other devices.”

 

Mr Emma Okonji, Chairman, Nigeria Information and Communications Technology Reporters Association (NITRA) while delivering it opening speech said that broadband infrastructure is an enabler for economic and social growth in a digital economy.

 

He commended the 15 member committee inaugurated by former president Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to draw up national broadband strategy for a work well done.

 

He further commended NCC for achieving the 30 percent broadband penetration target that was set from 2013 to 2018.

 

Okonji extolled Danbatta’s passion for broadband development in the country, adding that it has further deepened broadband penetration and grew it to the 30.9 percent that we currently achieved.

 

Engr Gbenga Adebayo, Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) decried the hostile business environment in the country, noting that it’s the reason why CDMA Company’s died.

 

He therefore called on the media to help in sustaining the environment by ensuring accurate reportage of the sector.

 

Adebayo, who was represented by Engr Aremu Olajide, chairman, Technical Committee, appealed on the media to always research on some of the laws being implemented by the state governments and ask questions on the areas of irregularities, citing the tax disputes between the Kogi government and mobile network operators as an example.

 

He condemned the multiple taxation Telco operators are being subjected to in the industry.

 

He further called on the support of the association in sustaining the industry through effective reportage.

 

Also speaking at the event, Dr. Ayotunde Coker, Managing Director of Rack Centre, said that cloud technology will transform Nigeria and Africa if we deploy it in sachet format.

 

He added that Nigeria run what he called a sachet economy, where we buy things in sachet form, stressing that deploying cloud in sachet format will ensure that it gets to the citizenry easy and faster.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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NCC Says Nigeria Loses $60Bn Annually to Call Masking

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), said the Nigerian telecom industry loses about $60 billion dollars annually to call masking. Call masking is a process where international calls are terminated as local calls.

This NCC said has posed serious threat to the telecom industry but noted that the Commission has proffered solution to the problem.

Prof Umar Danbatta, executive vice chairman of NCC, dropped the hint on Thursday at the 86th Edition of Telecom Consumer Parliament (TCP), entitled: “Overcoming Challenges of Call Masking/Refiling: Task Ahead for the Telecom Industry, on Thursday in Abuja.

Danbatta, who spoke through the Executive Commissioner Stakeholders management, Sunday Dare, noted that globally $54-$60 is lost to call masking but added that the Commission is taking proactive measures to curb the menace.

He said: “We don’t have the exact figures for Nigeria but globally $54-$60 is lost to call masking. This shows that it is a global menace which is not specific to Nigeria and it is possible because of innovative technology that is available.

“We talk about the VIOP which is Voice Over Internet Protocol, we talk about the OTT; Over The Top platforms where you do WhatsApp and all other video calls. These are innovations and technologies that allows for some of this to happen.”

“But we are happy to say for the last eight months, the NCC took very proactive measures, through investigations, we worked with our taskforce to have been able to reduce the incidence of sim boxing in this country by 34%.

“When you look at the roadmap so far, 2016, it started, in 2017, we started investigations. We moved from reducing it to 24% to 34%. I think the most critical point is; we have tried to look for a technological solution to solve what is a slight technical problem.

” As I speak, we have found a solution after the prove of concept. That solution has been tried in Lagos South West and about nine people have been arrested in the basement of a house and a few cars in which you have the boxes in their booths.

“We have tried that concept, it is working and we hope to launch it in January. If it is launched in January; I can assure Nigerians that before the end of 2019, we would have had 80% reduction in call masking,” he explained.

The EVC then called on the public not to hesitate to report cases of call masking to NCC, promising that appropriate measures would be taken against such persons.

Earlier in her welcome address, the Director Consumer Affairs Bureau, Mrs Felicia Onwuegbuchulam, stated that the forum allows for face to face encounter with the public and Stakeholders in the telecom industry and the theme is aimed at ensuring national security and a level playing ground for all telecom licensees.

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