May 22, 2024
How an increasing number of subscribers use the mobile network for crimes in Nigeria — Govt.
– By Alison_Godswill

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How an increasing number of subscribers use the mobile network for crimes in Nigeria — Govt.

.As it moves to tackle abuse

By Eyo Nsima

The Federal Government has noted the increased use of mobile networks for criminal activities, including online fraud and terrorism.

In its new revised National Identity Policy for SIM Card Registration obtained from the Nigerian Communications Commission’s website, the government, noted access to knowledge, increased collaboration, and ease of online payments, amongst others as the major benefits of mobile networks.

However, it stated: “The drawbacks include cyber threats that users get exposed to and privacy concerns that they have to deal with. The penetration of mobile networks and the increasing number of subscribers in Nigeria has also witnessed a rise in the number of malicious actors who use the mobile network to perpetrate various crimes, ranging from online fraud to terrorism.”

Continuing, it disclosed that, “The mobile network system today forms the backbone of the Nigerian communication infrastructure, delivering both voice and data services to millions of Nigerians, and also linking the nation to international telecommunication networks and the Internet. To a large extent, the global digital economy relies on the Internet and this reliance has its benefits and drawbacks.

“Such benefits include access to knowledge, increased collaboration, and ease of online payments, amongst others. The drawbacks include cyber threats that users get exposed to and privacy concerns that they have to deal with.

The penetration of mobile networks and the increasing number of subscribers in Nigeria has also witnessed a rise in the number of malicious actors who use the mobile network to perpetrate various crimes, ranging from online fraud to terrorism.

“The wireless nature of these communication networks makes it possible to commit such crimes many miles away from the perpetrator, thereby making it difficult or even impossible to track, arrest and prosecute. This threat was accentuated at a time when subscribers could obtain mobile network access without providing any personal details.

The National Digital Economy Policy & Strategy (NDEPS) is anchored on 8 Pillars of the Digital Nigeria Roadmap of the country. Pillar #6 (the soft infrastructure pillar) focuses on strengthening public confidence in the use of digital technologies and participation in the digital economy.

“According to the NDEPS document, the Soft Infrastructure pillar will address the importance of cybersecurity and other standards, frameworks, and guidelines that encourage citizens to go digital. The need for digital identity lies at the root of citizenship and service delivery in a digital economy.

With identity being digitized and tied to biometrics, the National Identity Number (NIN), Biometric Verification Number (BVN), Voter IDs, and SIM card registration details can provide channels for identifying citizens in order to facilitate credible transactions.

One of the key Policy Objectives of Pillar #6 is support for the accelerated implementation of a Digital Identity Programme. A key implementation strategy is to identify the barriers militating against the implementation of digital identity scheme and data harmonization in order to accelerate full-scale digital identification.”

It also added: “Several countries mandate the registration of pre-paid SIM cards in order to get mobile network service. This registration exercise usually requires network subscribers to provide proof of identification, personal data, and in some cases, biometric information, for their mobile SIM card to be activated to enable them to obtain network services, such as voice and data services.

Essentially, governments 12 adopt such registration policies as part of efforts to mitigate security concerns and address malicious activities like online fraud and identity theft. Governments are focused on enhancing security and they have realized that SIM card registration can potentially enable new experiences for consumers by enabling access to value-added mobile and digital services that would otherwise be unavailable to them as unregistered users.

Network operators also understand the loyalty they can elicit from their registered customers through Know Your Customer (KYC) initiatives.”

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