November 30, 2022

The CyberCrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, Etc) Act was enacted in 2015. This radical and novel legislation is essential and its provisions are a must know in the wake of the explosive use of the internet.

Question is; how does this Law affect you as a person? Not to worry, at LAWgically Speaking-NG, we are here to provide the answers.

1. All operators of Cyber Cafés are to be registered as business concerns

Since this law came into force in 2015, all operators of cybercafés in the country are to register as business concerns with:

a) The Computer Professionals’ Registration Council and

b) The Corporate Affairs Commission (as business names)

In addition, all cybercafés must keep a register of their users through a ‘sign-in register’. This is usually necessary to help the law enforcement agencies carry out their investigations of cybercrimes. Also, this register might be useful as a defense if the cybercafé owner is arrested and charged for allegedly conniving or conspiring with cybercrime suspect comes. [Section 7 of the Act]

2. Electronic Signatures used in transactions are presumed to be regular and of full effect

By this law, electronic signatures on documents are generally presumed as regular and binding {Section 17(1) (a)}. What this means in simple terms is that where a document is signed using an electronic signature, such a document will be presumed to be in order (that is it is presumed to be valid and binding). The effect of this is that if anyone alleges that such signature was a forgery, it will be such a person’s ‘duty’ or ‘burden’ to prove his allegation that the electronic signature is indeed not genuine {Section 17(1) (b)}.

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However, the law excludes some documents from this presumption. Therefore electronic signatures used on these documents that are excluded would not be presumed valid by the effect of this law. The excluded documents include – court official documents, birth and death certificates etc.

Corporate bodies, Businesses and Persons are therefore advised to invest in technologies that will prevent hacking and other electronic identity theft practices. [Section 17 of the Act]

3. Producing, making available, distributing and possessing Child Pornography is a crime.

Child pornography is criminalized by sec. 23 of the Cyber Crimes Act. This covers not only depictions of children engaging in sexually explicit activity but also persons appearing to be children or realistic images representing children engaging in sexually explicit activity. All these are offences by this section of law {sec. 23(4) of the Cyber Crimes Act}.

By this section, the production or offering or making of child pornography; as well as the distribution, transmitting and possessing of child pornography in a computer system or computer storage medium are all criminal offences. Each of these offences has various punishments. They are summarized as follows

• Producing, Offering and distributing child pornography – 10 years imprisonment or fine of not more than N20M or imprisonment and fine.

• Procuring and possessing child porn – imprisonment of not more than 5 years or or fine of not more than N10 Million or imprisonment and fine

Also, it is a crime under this law for a person to intentionally propose, groom or request (solicit) to meet with a child for the purpose of engaging with sexual activities with the child. Equally, where a person in a position of trust (say a relative or guardian to the child) engages in sexual activities with a child, irrespective of the dependence or mental or physical disability of the child, such a person has committed an offence under this law. Same applies to a person who recruits, induces, coerces or causes a child to engage in pornographic acts.

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Photo Credit: Unsplash

4. Cyberbullying is a criminal offence

The rise of instant messaging and social media has given rise to cyberbullying. The world of social media has become a ‘no-man’s land’ where persons become the accusers, judges and executioners of a suspect/accused from the comfort of their phone, laptop or desktop screens. The tragedy of this kind of bullying played out recently with Izuchukwu Madubueze at the center and caused him to take his life as a result.

Cyber bullying is prohibited by sec. 24(2) of the Cyber Crimes Act and as such, the transmission of communication over a computer system with the intention of bullying, threatening or harassing a person to put such person in fear of death or bodily harm or containing any threat to kidnap a person is prohibited. Demanding a ransom after a kidnap or threatening to destroy the reputation of another, living or dead; or to extort from a person is also prohibited. The period of imprisonment or the amount of fine that a person may pay depends on the offence committed but the least term of imprisonment prescribed in that section was 5 years imprisonment or the sum of N15 million as a fine or both imprisonment and the payment of fine.

Where the nude pictures of a person is circulated round the internet with the aim of humiliating such person, it is covered under Section 24 of the CyberCrimes Act but where there is no such intention, it is still criminalized under the Criminal Code Act and Penal Code for obscene publication.

5. Cyberstalking is a criminal offence

This is defined in the Act to be: a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear- Section 58 of the Act. Cyber stalking covers situations such as sending a message to someone that is so grossly offensive, pornographic or indecent or obscene in character. Even if the message is not of an indecent nature, where the sender, knowing the message to be false still goes ahead to send it for the purpose of causing enmity or annoyance or ill will or insults, it also amounts to cyberstalking. The penalty for cyberstalking is a fine of N7 million or imprisonment for not more than 3 years or both {Sec. 24(1) of the Cyber Crimes Act}.

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Hope the foregoing has informed you substantially about your activities online. Kindly ensure you are not found on the wrong side of the law.

The information above is only provided for general information purposes and does not amount to legal advice or soliciting. Also, No Lawyer-client relationship has been created and neither can such a relationship be implied. This information is not intended to substitute the services of a lawyer, if you need legal advice, kindly consult a lawyer for your specific needs. For any further information, you could send us a mail via [email protected]

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