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Prof Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive of NCC

Lagos TCP 2019: NCC To Set Up ‘Internet Code of Practice’ For individuals, Corporate Organisations

IT NEWS NIGERIA:

Nigerian Communications Commission has announced today it has set in motion the process of establishing an Internet Industry Code of Practice for individuals  and corporate organisation.

According to the Commission’s Twitter handle, Prof Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive of NCC said this while Delivering the Opening Remarks  at the 87th Edition of NCC’s flagship consumer and allied stakeholders engagement programme, the Telecom Consumer Parliament (TCP) in Lagos today.

“In our efforts, as telecommunications industry regulators, towards ensuring safer internet user for all telecom consumer- be it individuals or corporate- we have set in motion the process of establishing an Internet Industry Code of Practice in accordance with our mandate.”

The TCP provides high level engagement and interaction with Consumers, Service Providers, the Regulators and other Stakeholders in the Telecommunications Industry.

“To regulate the communications sector in Nigeria, as enshrined in the Nigerian Communications Act 2003. The code is to clearly define the rights and obligations of Internet Access Service providers with regard to the issues therein and to also protect the right of internet usersTo an open internet. It provides clear guidelines to Internet Access Service Providers on the use of traffic management practices. It Also outlines the obligations of Internet Access Service Providers on relation to protection of consumers’ personal data and security among others.

Our efforts with regards to establishing the Internet Code will complement existing statutes and regulations against cyber criminal activities, especially the Nigerian cybercrime Act 2015,in order to make the cyber space much safer.”

The programme usually hosted on quarterly basis has become a veritable platform for addressing critical industry challenges, affecting consumers and other stakeholders in the telecommunications value-chain in Nigeria.

Various topical issues have been addressed over the years through this platform which have yielded significant, positive and far reaching impact on the growth of the industry, and as well have benefited stakeholders in diverse ways.

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During the Third and fourth quarters editions of the parliament held in Lagos and Abuja respectively in 2018, we discussed and proffered solutions to the problem of call masking identified as a threat to the industry.

Today, we are happy to note that consumer complaints to the Commission pertaining to call masking and SIM boxing have reduced drastically compared to what was the case in the wake of the menace.

The issue of cybercrime is a global phenomenon with levels of pervasiveness differing from country to Country, region to region. It is also more pronounced in Nigeria, as it cost individuals and organisations financials losses.

It is therefore our concern in NCC to see the risk associated with the usage of internet by Nigerians are addressed and mitigated.

It is on this note that the Commission, Being a consumer-centric telecom regulatory agency has specially chosen today’s theme “ Challenges of Cybercrime : The Role of the Telecoms Service Providers” for discussions.

This is with a view to ascertaining the role telecoms service providers are expected to play, to protect telecoms consumer against cybercrime.

With this Theme in mind, few questions have become necessary to be asked:

What role are currently being played by telecoms service providers and internet service providers (ISPs) alike towards protecting consumers- individuals and corporate entities from cyber attack ?

Mrs Felecia Onwuegbuchulam, Director Consumer Affairs, Presenting the Welcome Address

Are the current roles, if any, played  by the service providers sufficient to adequately protect consumers ? Are there new roles that should be apportioned to service providers for improved protection of telecoms consumer?

How will these roles complement Govt legal and regulatory frameworks, aimed at ensuring improved security for telecoms consumer while using the internet?

I wish to restate that this forum is in line with the Commission’s culture of robust stakeholders engagement and consultations on emerging industry issues.

I enjoin you all to maximise this opportunity to contribute to today’s discourse, which will help reinforce efforts aimed at protecting telecom consumer interest and ultimately promote a healthy telecoms industry for all.

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We are gathered here today to brainstorm on the theme “Challenges of Cybercrime: The Role of the Telecoms Service Providers”. The theme, is apt for discussion at this time when demand for high speed internet in Nigeria, and across the globe by telecom consumers is rapidly growing.

The country outstandingly achieved and surpassed the 30% broadband penetration target expected to be achieved by December, 2018, as contained in the country’s Nationals Broadband Plan ( NBP) 2013-2018.

The foregoing statistics has been considered necessary to prepare the foundations for our discussion here today, as iris hoped that this will help us to better appreciate how far we have come as a country in the area of internet usage and penetration.

While the Commission stipulates the rules of engagement that will make the cyberspace safe and ensure the confidence as well as the safety of the cyberspace. It needs to be acknowledged that there are benefits and risk of the use of cyberspace and both have to be properly managed.

Instructively, mobile Internet/broadband has positive applications among individuals and across private and public sectors by enabling more efficient delivery of many services and creating opportunities to increase workforce productivity.

Furthermore ,access to internet /broadband enabling real time person-to-person (P2P) and business to business(B2B) interactions. Today, telecom consumers spend more time on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, etc to interact on personal and official bases.

That most organisations also rely on internet for daily operations cannot be over-emphasised. Broadband is, indeed, completely transforming the way essential services ranging from e-health, e-commerce, e-agriculture, e-education and e-government, among others are delivered.

However, with the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the undeniable reality is that the global business ecosystem is undergoing profound and rapid change, given the penetration of new technologies and the growing interconnection of systems brought about by internet.

Though this revolution offers opportunities for innovation, diversification, agility and cost optimisation, it also carries with it and increased exposure to a new jeopardising risk: CYBERCRIME.

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For us in Nigeria, as it is the case in other countries where access to and demand for broadband are increasing, we must be cognisant of the reality that access to broadband Internet has also brought unintended consequences of cybercrime.

Today, different criminal activities such as spamming, Subscribers Identity Module (SIM)  card frauds, credit card frauds, Automated Teller Machine (ATM) frauds. Phishing, identity theft, unauthorised access, distribution of obscene and indecent contents, cyber bullying among several other forms of sophisticated cyber criminal activities are being perpetrated within the cyber space.

Needless to say, therefore, that the cyberspace has become a blossoming haven for cyber criminals to perpetrate their insidious acts which have continued to cost unsuspecting internet user and many organisations billions of naira in lost money and revenue.

Most times, the main target of cyber criminals is to steal information, password or the identity of genuine internet user for selfish profiteering.

Though Africa is relatively limited in terms of communications infrastructure, due to the cost insensible nature deployment, it is increasingly a target for cyber criminals, as most Africans countries still have a low level of commitment to cyber security.

In our view as a regulator, we believe that Telecoms Service Providers operating in Nigeria would be expected, more than ever before, to strengthen their cyber risk protection system and architecture.

We also believe that the time has come for organisations and telecoms service provider alike,to begin to use next-generation authentication as against the hitherto usernames-password authentication system. The ITU, in a report, says the latter is vulnerable to hacking & cyber attack.

It is our belief that implementing these suggestions and more to come during deliberations, will help Telecoms Service Providers and other Internet-Dependent organisations in sustaining their activities in an increasingly connected world and containing the Menace of cybercrime on Their finances and reputations, on their employees and customers. The Mobile Network Operators also need to educate their consumers, regardless of their sizes and scopes of operations and equip them with tips they need to get protected while using the internet on their networks.

It is my belief, therefore, that Mobile Network Operators and other stakeholders present here today will deliberate extensively on the theme of this event by  X-raying the roles which Telecoms Service Providers, most especially, need to play towards effectively addressing the challenges of cybercrime in order to safe guard the ever growing  Internet/Broadband users in the Country.

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