Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Lack of awareness, bane of ICT – Jones

Lack of awareness of the benefits of and low appreciation of information and communications technology (ICT), have been identified as some of the problems confronting the growth of electronic payment (e-payment) systems in the country.

Stating this in Lagos last week, at the Telecom Device Forum 2009, was Mr. Wale Jones, a telecom lawyer.

Others he said, were low level of education and more particularly computer education; inadequate ICT infrastructure such as low internet bandwidth, problems of connectivity and uneven spread of available ICT infrastructure.

Mr. Jones who spoke on; The legal aspects of e-payment system in Nigeria-issues and challenges, also identified high cost of ICT infrastructure; epileptic power supply; problem of IT security particularly issues of cybercriminality and lack of proper legal and regulatory framework.

Mr. Jones identified IT security and cybercriminality, such as hacking, cracking, advanced fee fraud (419); general risk of fraud; adequate supervision of relevant institutions and consumer protection as some of the legal and regulatory issues in e-payment system.

Other regulatory issues, he said, Data Protection and Privacy- Relevance of s.37 of the Nigerian Constitution 1999; jurisdiction; applicable law; validity of electronic data; validity of electronic contracts; validity of electronic signature as well as the citizens confidence in the legal and regulatory framework.

“There is need for an Electronic Communications Act similar to what obtains in Europe, US and even in South Africa to address issues like E-Signature among others and to provide legal foundation for the growth of E-Commerce.

Also a law in the mould of Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, RIPA 2000 in the UK is required to regulate the Investigatory powers of law enforcement agencies. A data Protection Act is desirable,” he said.

The telecom lawyer, stated that the Nigerian Consumer Protection Council Act, 1992 is too general in terms of its provision. The relevant section (s. 2(j) viz provides that “consumer interests receive due consideration at appropriate forum and to provide redress to obnoxious practices or the unscrupulous exploitation of consumers by companies, firms, trade association or individual,” describing it as being too vague to serve an electronic consumers interest.

Mr. Jones said there is an urgent need to make the Computer Security and Critical Infrastructure Protection Bill 2005 a reality to check computer misuse and cybercrime.

“There is need to have some legal framework for E-signature. This assures that Nigeria accepts the legal validity of E-Signatures such that services requiring or relating to E-signatures can be provided in the Nigerian market without national/geographic obstacles.

The law will need to state that all kinds of electronic authentication attached to or connected with a data receive legal validity,” Jones said.

This, he said, can be done at a regional or continental level similar to the EU Directives on E-Signature, 2001.

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