BusinessDay

Internet users to submit personal details to ISPs

Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) in the country are now demanding identity verification information from their customers, following the rising trend of online fraud in the global cyberspace, including Nigeria, and the need to comply with regulations, as well as deepen customer relationship.

The ISPs are now building databanks of their subscribers by requesting from them, Know Your Customer (KYC) details, including copies of their national identity cards, drivers licences, international passports and utility bills, or bank statements, BusinessDay has learnt.

This development, according to analysts, is in line with the country’s Advanced Fee and Other Fraud Related Offences Act 2006. However, the new course of action by ISPs should have been implemented long before now, since such an enabling law had existed, which permits ISPs to maintain valid identification and contact addresses of customers, some industry watchers say.

According to statistics from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), Nigeria has 45 million internet users, the highest online population in Africa. Reports from Opera mini show that 54 percent of Nigeria’s Internet users access the Internet through their mobile phones.

One of the ISPs which has started implementing this KYC regulation is Swift Networks. In an email sent to its broadband subscribers, the company is requesting all customers are to provide the following documents as part of its KYC due diligence: “For Identity: Copy of National ID card; Drivers Licence or International Passport; For address: Copy of any utility bill or bank statement with name and address of the customer.” Service, according to the company will be “temporarily blocked until both KYC documents have been successfully uploaded and vetted.”

Bayo Banjo, president, Nigerian Internet Group (NIG) told BusinessDay in an interview, “ISPs in Nigeria are strengthening KYC requirements to curb the issue of cyber fraud. It has become a worrying issue.

“Nigeria does not have the enabling law to fight this menace. The Federal Government needs to pass the Cybercrime Bill into law”, he added.

Today, many criminals hide under the veil of the Internet to perpetuate sophisticated online fraud. A new research study by Giovane Cesar Moreira Moura, a researcher at the Centre for Telematics and Information Technology, Netherlands, shows that the world’s most crime-riddled ISP is a foreign-owned company operating in Nigeria. In view of this development, ISPs in Nigeria are establishing improved KYC policies, procedures and infrastructure, which many industry analysts say is a huge challenge in today’s cost- cutting financial environment.

Strengthening KYC activities, analysts say, provides ISPs with fresh opportunities to build deeper client relationships, improve the customers experience and engage in cross-selling activities.

“Stakeholders in the Information Communications Technology (ICT) sector have renewed calls for the passage of the Cybercrime Bill which seeks to provide for offences and penalties relating to cybercrime and general computer misuse. The bill is still awaiting presidential approval in the National Assembly.

“..Cybercrime is real. The threat is one that cannot be wished away. When there is no law, there is no transgression. If hacking into a man’s system is not regarded as a crime, then people will scam and cheat people without fear”, David Isiavwe, President of the Information Security Society of Africa, Nigeria (ISSAN) said in an interview.

Aisha Ahmed, member, House of Representatives, in a report, lamented that the absence of cybercrime laws has left a vacuum that has been exploited by criminals. Speaking at the public hearing organised by the House of Representatives Committee on Justice, on the Cybercrime Bill, held in Abuja, Ali Ahmad, chairman House Committee on Justice, said the bill when passed into law, would curb the activities of website hackers and Internet fraudsters, commonly known as “yahoo boys” in Nigeria. The absence of a cyber crime legislation, according to him, has left sensitive economic and security information at the mercy of Internet hackers and cyber crime syndicates.

BEN UZOR JR

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