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Tech giants sabotaging fight against cybercrime: Police

“Citing various cybercrime cases, Mr Henry said it was sad that victims failed to report because they believe “they have seen the worst.”

• July 19, 2023
Internet Fraudster
Internet Fraudster

Uche Ifeanyi Henry, the director of the Nigeria Police Force Cybercrime Unit, has identified the failure of tech giants to share crucial information with law enforcement agencies as an obstacle to curbing cybercrimes.

Mr Henry spoke at a workshop on improving women and children’s online safety. The event  was organised by TechSocietal, a non-profit organisation, on Tuesday.

Mr Henry, who said Nigeria was second on the list of countries with the highest romance scam and sextortion, attributed this to technological advancement and partly unemployment.

Citing various cybercrime cases, Mr Henry said it was sad that victims failed to report because they believe “they have seen the worst.”

He maintained that it would be difficult to address some of the cases due to end-to-end encryption of messages and tech giants’ failure to share data with third parties when the information is needed for an investigation.

However, Sylvia Musalagani, Head of Safety Africa, Middle and Turkey at Meta, emphasised in her presentation that the company’s policies prohibited sharing user data even though they understood its significance.

“We are not allowed to share user data,” said Ms Musalagani. We cannot even share it with law enforcement agents. We are governed by privacy laws that we have to respect.”

According to Ms Musalagani, the tech giant hired over 35,000 personnel worldwide, including law enforcement officers, forensic investigators, and child protection specialists, to ensure that women and children were safe online.

She disclosed that after Meta noticed that taking down posts on their platforms was insufficient to address the online violence, the company created tools to increase women’s safety, where they can report various cases of harassment.

In her presentation, Tope Ogundipe, the executive director of TechSocietal, lamented the increased incidence of online violence against women and children and said that the number of reports to law enforcement agencies had been at an all-time low.

She stressed that women and children have, over time, been exposed to online violence ranging from non-consensual image-based abuse, sextortion, rape threats and cyberstalking.

According to Ms Ogundipe, a 2020 report showed that 90 per cent of Nigerian children aged four to 16 were exposed to cyber risks, many of which men committed. 

The workshop was convened in partnership with Meta and funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office through its Digital Access Programme in Nigeria.

Representatives from civil society organisations and the Nigerian Police Force, women’s rights activists, journalists, and children’s rights advocates attended the workshop.

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