Mixed reactions trail cyber-crime bill

Mixed reactions have trailed the cyber-crime bill presently before the House of Representatives over the inclusion of death sentence clause specified for offenders.
Submitted to the National Assembly recently by President Goodluck Jonathan the bill aims at empowering security agencies the right to conduct surveillance on telecommunication companies and individuals, as well as mandate the companies to release their user data to the agencies.
In other words, telecom companies will be making available users’ personal e-mails, text messages, voice mails, etc. to security agencies with a view to facilitating criminal investigations.
The Cybercrime Bill 2013, which is now before the House of Representatives, also proposes the death sentence for persons who hack into the critical national information infrastructure or computer networks resulting in loss of lives. The bill defines critical national information infrastructure as “certain computer systems, networks and information infrastructure vital to the national security of Nigeria or the economy and social well-being of its citizens.”
However, where there is no loss of lives but the offender causes “grievous bodily injury” to another person, the bill recommends a prison term of not less than 15 years. Using any computer network for terrorism purposes also attracts life sentence.
The bill also frowns on child pornography, as it imposes a 10-year jail term for offenders, or a fine of N20 million, or both. The bill criminalises the use of force to engage children in sexual activities. Offenders are liable to conviction of 10 years imprisonment or a fine of N15million.
The bill has been generating mixed reactions from Nigerians.  A respondent, Bimbo Kingsley, a computer vendor at Zone 3 Shopping Complex, Wuse, Abuja told this reporter that the government was doing the right thing. If anyone was afraid of this bill, Kingsley said, it has to be those who engage in such dirty acts. She, however, suggested, jail terms or fines, rather than the death sentence for offenders.
Another respondent, Peter Babia of Pikaso Power Computers, in GSM village had this to say, “It is a good decision. They are doing it in the interest of all Nigerians and they are doing it for security reasons”. When asked about what should be done to offenders, “they should be sent to jail”, he said.
Abdullahi Idris, a student of University of Abuja and staff of TrustNet Technologies, a cybercafé in Wuse, had a different opinion. He said he didn’t think the government was doing the right thing and as such, saw it as a wasted effort. To him, it was another way the government wanted to embezzle money. According to him, “the best way government can checkmate cyber-crimes is by providing enough jobs so that when people graduate, they can engage themselves in something useful, which would contribute to the economy of this country.”
On the social media, many people were of the same opinion as Abdullahi. These are their responses: Jude Onabe: If the death sentence is passed on persons who commit cyber-crimes, what of the ministers and other government officials stealing billions of naira in the President Jonathan administration? They should die by hanging.
Simon Peter: What is the punishment for government officials and politicians looting our funds? Is it death penalty too? We want to know.

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