DigitalNews Today: February 2016

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New media and The 10 Things you must know about Nigeria’s Cybercrime Act 2015

Posted on Wednesday, February 24, 2016 2 comments

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Digital media has been touted as new and exciting platform for international development. The Internet, cell phones and other social technologies have been used to strengthen communities by making information readily available and by empowering the voiceless. 

Internet and communications technology is undoubtedly a tool that can be harnessed for positive social change, but as with every other technological advancement, ICT is a double-edged sword. As access to new media increases, there is growing concern among academics, activists and technology professionals that real-world issues of privacy, security, conflict and crime are moving into the digital sphere more quickly than they can be monitored or addressed.

For digital advocates and new media users, the major areas of concern has always been the double edged issue of government control of freedom of expression and the legal challenges of an increasingly global Internet community and the ways in which some private citizens are responding to the issues of cyber-crime.

Currently, the term cyber crime encompasses (but is not limited to) the following: terrorism, online fraud, espionage, child pornography, stock manipulation, extortion, piracy and personal attacks. Tracking the growth of these crimes is a difficult task for law enforcement agencies, since much of the illegal internet activity worldwide goes unreported, but the instances continue to multiply.

The Nigerian Communication Commision has however recently emphasized the Commissions mission at the Social Media Week Lagos as a move to sensitize the public on the Cybercrime Act of 2015.

According to Mr. Ojobo, a special social media unit was created by the EVC to publish the activities of the NCC online on social media as part of the Commission's drive to sensitize the public on the Act.

Responding to reports that the NCC was planning to regulate platforms such as WhatsApp, Viber and so on, Ojobo stated that traditional telephony are under threat from OTT operators. He further added that the report recommended that telecoms operators innovate and develop business models that will enable them compete favorably, allaying fears that the Commisssion was indeed considering regulation of the platforms.

Panelists on the NCC showcase, which was themed What Does New Media Have To Do With The Cybercrimes Act, stated that crimes can be committed by people who go to organizations and use the network of those organizations to commit crimes. They revealed that such cases can be tackled if such organizations start to register users who log on to their networks.

Furthermore the panelists also stated that New Media has brought on a lot of regulatory and ethical issues adding that the situation brought about the need for the cybercrime act to combat crimes that can be committed via digital means, adding that the act has also granted security agencies right to monitor certain data and information.

They also revealed that the act is also meant to protect tech infrastructure, adding that the acts also states the kind of information ISPs are allowed to give, with the act also mandating ISPs to put additional checks for minors because of pornography.

The NCC is the leading regulatory body on all things communication in Nigeria. 


This is a high-level overview of what the Cybercrime Act 2015 provides, and things we should be aware of.

1. Gives the President the power to designate certain computer systems, networks and information infrastructure vital to the national security of Nigeria or the economic and social well-being of its citizens, as constituting Critical National Information Infrastructure, and to implement procedures, guidelines, and conduct audits in furtherance of that. Examples of systems, which could be designated as such, include transport, communication, banking etc. To find out more about what such a plan should look like, you can check the USA’s National Infrastructure Protection Plan here, or the European Union’s here.

2. Prescribes the death penalty for an offence committed against a system or network that has been designated critical national infrastructure of Nigeria that results in the death of an individual (amongst other punishments for lesser crimes).

3. Hackers, if found guilty, of unlawfully accessing a computer system or network, are liable to a fine of up to N10 million or a term of imprisonment of 5 years (depending on the purpose of the hack). The same punishment is also meted out to Internet fraudsters who perpetuate their acts either by sending electronic messages, or accessing and using data stored on computer systems.

4. Makes provision for identity theft, with the punishment of imprisonment for a term of not less than 3 years or a fine of not less than N7 million or to both fine and imprisonment. An example of identity fraud would be the individual who impersonated Chief Bola Tinubu on Facebook and was apprehended recently by the police.

5. Specifically creates child pornography offences, with punishments of imprisonment for a term of 10 years or a fine of not less than N20 million or to both fine and imprisonment, depending on the nature of the offence and the act carried out by the accused persons. Offences include, amongst others: producing, procuring, distributing, and possession of child pornography.

6. Outlaws Cyber-stalking and Cyber-bullying and prescribes punishment ranging from a fine of not less than N2 million or imprisonment for a term of not less than 1 year or to both fine and imprisonment, up to a term of not less than 10 years or a fine of not less than N25 million or to both fine and imprisonment; depending on the severity of the offence.

7. Prohibits cybersquatting, which is registering or using an Internet domain name with bad faith intent to profit from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else, or to profit by selling to its rightful owner. Individuals who engage in this are liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of not less than 2 years or a fine of not less thanN5 million or to both fine and imprisonment.

8. Forbids the distribution of racist and xenophobic material to the public through a computer system or network (e.g. Facebook and Twitter), it also prohibits the use of threats of violence and insulting statements to persons based on race, religion, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin. Persons found guilty of this are liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of not less than 5 years or to a fine of not less than N10million or to both fine and imprisonment.

9. Mandates that service providers shall keep all traffic data and subscriber informationhaving due regard to the individual’s constitutional Right to privacy, and shall take appropriate measures to safeguard the confidentiality of the data retained, processed or retrieved.

10. Allows for the interception of electronic communication, by way of a court order by a Judge, where there are reasonable grounds to suspect that the content of any electronic communication is reasonably required for the purposes of a criminal investigation or proceedings.

The above is just a high-level overview of certain interesting provisions in the newly passed legislation. The Act itself contains 43 sections, and is a very important piece of legislation to foster the development of the nascent ICT sector in Nigeria. You can read the full provisions of the Act here – CyberCrime (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) Act 2015

Google removes ads from the right-hand side of search results page (SERP)

Posted on Monday, February 22, 2016 No comments

Monday, February 22, 2016

Previously reported by The SEM Post with Google later confirming the move to the publication, Google will no longer be showing AdWords ads on the right hand side of its search results pages (SERP).

Usually Google’s ads are shown all over the page, ads will now only show at the top and bottom of the SERP. Although it may increase the number of ads from three to four if the search query is “highly commercial.” 

This is a mixture of top, bottom, and right-hand positions, based on the specific query — but this change leaves the sidebar free for Google’s Product Listing Ads.

This roll-out will effect users worldwide in all languages and will bring the desktop experience closer to the mobile experience, although whether the amount of ads shown to mobile users will increase hasn’t been confirmed.

Implication for marketers and users alike?

- For regular users, the right-hand space will still be utilised for Product Listing Ads (PLAs) as well as Knowledge Graph Boxes, so you probably won’t notice much of a difference there. However the continual ‘pushing down’ of organic listings will certainly be an issue for many of us.

- For businesses this will mean the organic space is even more precious will therefore lead to an even bigger focus on SEO

- For Paid Search advertisers the change will certainly drive up average CPCs as the competition for the top slots increases. It’s gonna get ugly.

According to The Media Image (one of the first to break the story) the reason for this may well be because “Google has determined the average click-through-rate for Right Hand Side Ads is poor across verticals, and the expected CPC inflation from this major change is projected to more profitable in the long run.”

The “complete and permanent” roll-out will be finalised today.

Matters Arising In MTN/Visafone Deal

Posted on Monday, February 15, 2016 5 comments

Monday, February 15, 2016

THE initial headlines announcing the acquisition of the last operational CDMA standing, Visafone by telecoms giant MTN naturally focused on MTN’s claim that they are committed to improving the quality of voice and data services as well as deepening the growth and rollout of broadband services across the country. However, the impact of this deal on the jobs of about 2,000 Visafone employees has been muted amidst the rave of the acquisition and the different projections for providing broadband services.

Over 2,000 employees were reported to have lost their jobs following the conclusion of the deal whilst a few others had been gradually phased out before the deal was sealed. There was a quick recall of some of the sacked staff. Sadly, the fate of employees after acquisitions is hardly considered during the negotiations phase, and popular transactions rarely gets prominence in the news.

The reason for this is simple: the organisations involved are interested in physical assets with scant regard for human assets and therefore do not want to inherit liabilities from the company they are acquiring. It was reported that Visafone’s new owner was reluctant to assume all of Visafone’s liabilities. It is most unfortunate that often times employees are considered liabilities and as such are treated as dead weight to be shed once the transaction is completed; despite the long years they had put into the job.

The media has kept its focus on the positive side of the transaction. MTN, on its part, has severally reiterated its commitment to the Nigerian economy, including investing $15 billion into the Nigerian economy and paying huge amounts in taxes. The Nigerian telecom industry is known to be the fastest growing in Africa, as such is an attraction to investors. The company having its Group operations in South Africa has equally recorded huge sums from Nigerian economy as it recently noted that the N780 billion fine represented 95% of its annual turnover. MTN, as reported in the media, recently tried to avoid paying the fine imposed for the violation it allegedly committed.

The relevant government agencies need to review actions of organisations in a holistic manner to ensure that those of them doing business in Nigeria do so on a mutually beneficial basis and not one sided.

Nigeria has continued to be supportive of MTN’s business. The NCC, in the last quarter of 2015, renewed its operating licence in the midst of a fine, which was imposed due to alleged consistent violations of the regulators directives, and the recent access to more spectrums granted through the acquisition of Visafone.

Whilst Nigeria must continue to support the growth of trade and investment to boost the economy, it must do so without compromising the greater national and economic interest. MTN currently holds 62% of the telecom subscriber base in Nigeria and take up more than 75% of the profits accruing to the telecom industry. With the acquisition of Visafone’s 800MHz spectrum, MTN can now offer voice and data services using the 4G LTE technology, which is a more superior technology to GSM and CDMA. With this, MTN has an edge over all other operators – Intercellular, Smile and Swift Networks – on the 800MHz spectrum due to its size and financial strength. This however poses a threat to the other operators. It is unclear if the NCC, in approving the acquisition, considered the wider implications by imposing obligations to ensure a proper balance and level playing field in the data services market.

• Otunba Adebayo is a Human Resource specialist and writes from Ibadan.


The Marketing Power of The Internet of Things

Posted on Wednesday, February 3, 2016 No comments

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

51% of marketing executives expect the Internet of Things—or "IoT"—"to revolutionize marketing by 2020. 
The Internet of Things (IoT) is projected to be the future of digital marketing with the capacity to revolutionize marketing. The Internet of Things (IoT) has over time become a trend that every smart and modern marketer and advertiser should watch and possibly embrace as early adopters. It presents opportunities for real-time consumer engagement and customer service and will inject new and improved ways to marketing, advertising and logistics approach. 

These smart, connected devices are ringing in a new, exciting era for marketing. IoT provides endless opportunities for marketers and advertisers to listen and respond to the needs of their audience based on behaviors. But, what does Internet of Things mean and what are the projected impacts to marketers? 

Marketo defines the Internet of Things (IoT) as “the interconnectivity of our digital devices that provides endless opportunities for brands to listen and respond to the needs of their customers – with the right message, at the right time, on the right device”. 

One thing that is certain is that the Internet of Things will impact customer experience, the amount of data gained through connected devices and analytics. In a consumer and marketing context, Big Data and (predictive) analytics are never far away. 

Marketing automation vendor Marketo released an infographic on the marketing power of the Internet of Things based on data from Economist Insights, Gartner, Salesforce and Verizon Enterprise.. The “subtitle” already says where that power – and impact – can, is and will be felt: connectivity for better customer interactivity (among others). 

According to the infographic 51% of the world’s top global marketers expect that IoT will revolutionize the marketing landscape by 2020. After looking at some consumer evolutions Marketo resumes the ways marketers will use IoT as follows: 

- Analyzing customer buying habit across the platforms customers use. 

- More and previously unobtainable data regarding the ways consumers interact with devices and products (the “connected devices” themselves). 

- Getting a better insight into the buying journey and in which stage of it the customer is. 

- Real-time interactions, POS notifications and of course targeted (and even fully contextual) ads. 

- The customer service field whereby issues can be quickly resolved.

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