Do you remember when Facebook had its first trend in Nigeria? The excitement that you could connect, connect I say, with people you last saw two years, three years and many years ago? It was like redemption for severed relationships. It was, in fact, a revolution for most of us and we didn’t even realize that someday everyone will get this used to be in touch without having to break a sweat from way-billing letters and hunting for mobile numbers. You know what now? We have gotten so used to staying in touch with longtime friends that we now have to grapple with detecting if this friend is really genuine. Is that Chioma Okeke, I grew up with?
- Why does she bear Oma Okeks now?
- Why is she fairer?
- How did she get a Bentley?
- Her parents retreated to the village, since when did she graduate from Harvard Law?
You keep wondering how until Chioma Okeke begins to pressure you to send $5000 so she can process her VISA back to Nigeria to come and see you.
Where do we blame this one? The criminal culture in Nigeria or criminal culture technology facilitates in Nigeria? It is very important to note that technology does not have the same impact everywhere. This is why I am particular about Nigeria.
Behind every exquisite invention is the creation of a new problem. Clearly, this is an observable truth in the technology world. Until modern automobiles were invented to ease transportation, there were no concerns about road accidents. Not until the internet was fully developed to connect people, cyber crimes were unthought-of. To really understand the impact technology has on us, it would have been convenient to draw a comparison of crime rates or of the uncontrollable population growth before and after the surge in the modern technology industry in the 1990s (by the way, the surge red marks the period modern technology had its boom and gained more relevance and high demands in the market. And most people will agree this boom started from the early to the late 1990s), but we will all agree the tools for compiling such statistics were not as sophisticated as today’s, hence the reason we can’t make any credible comparison.
You know what, let’s put up some trial regardless. Let us see how much crime rate has worsened since the technology industry boom in light of what credible sources have to say.
“In fact, crime has fallen dramatically over the past 20 years, not due to reforms traditionally advocated by politicians, but due to the technological change which has made it harder to commit a crime.” Wired article, December 2016.
According to a Forbes article(May 2017), “…the potential contributions of technology as falling into three broad categories: reducing crime, improving data quality, and reducing racial disparities.”
With several sources insinuating how technology can and has affected the crime rate, we haven’t really found a concrete scenery where technology has weighed down on crime rates within the tech world.
Technology has its way of curbing physical crimes like robbery, driving beyond speed limits, and maybe a little less cyber inclined crimes, but what about crimes only technology can facilitate, what curbs it? Technology?
Well, let us say technology is the only viable solution to cybercrime, how much have we, as a country, wielded it to combat crime? We just had the vice presidential candidate debate, and clearly, nobody thinks cybercrime is worth mentioning even though it is one of the dreadful and yet less investigated crime in the country. Pensioners and businessmen have lost their savings to cyber vultures and nobody sees it as a problem.
Why this is pertinent.
Technology has arguably evolved crime. It has merely changed general criminal behaviors and people’s inclination to commit crime. According to Tech Cabal on the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics, “…$54bn worth of electronic payments were made in Q2 2017. Web payments amounted to only $102m, although this doesn’t include the bulk of e-commerce transactions which are still payment on delivery. Bank transfers accounted for 68% of the transaction volume. Interestingly, ATM transactions accounted for 57% of transaction volume but only 8% of transaction value”
If we keep up this pace, in the next five years, illicit money transfers through electronic means would have doubled money laundered through politics.
Why is nobody talking about cybercrime?
The 2016 annual report of Nigeria Electronic Fraud Forum releases that attempted fraudulent transaction increased by 82% following the 14% rise in the number of ATMs in circulation in 2015 as significantly compared to 2010. For a perfect case in study, ATMs are technological products that has paved the way for illicit money transactions. People now have to struggle with the reality of losing their money to a system that was originally designed to make life easy for them.
Technology does have its high scores but in most cases, it can only be maintained when there’s an active role in reducing its loopholes. With the unfortunate fine of over $600,000 imposed on Facebook by the United Kingdom for basically being careless with users’ data, one can agree that in developed countries tech companies are slammed with lawsuits for simply creating an enabling environment for crime, whether or not the crime has been executed.
What this means for us.
There is the role the government can play in curbing cyber crimes but we as individuals can do a lot more. We can start by twitching out that get rich or die trying culture that drives people into notorious cyber crimes. Now, this is not to downplay the place of hustling but if you want to be honest, hustle in our clime is the savage rule of the jungle. Nobody expects the strong to sympathize with the weak, not all the time. But if you’re going to play dirty, at least play by the rules.
A bigger part of the problem is that Nigerian law enforcement has maintained its rigid stand in fighting cyber crimes with manual strategies. What technological tool has the EFCC been able to imbibe to fight real cyber crimes, aside witch hunting flopped money laundering attempts by politicians?
A well robust government can come in handy in igniting fire under everyone’s bosom. Social media posts and updates that promotes crime should be penalized alongside technology companies that undermine the crime potentiality of their technological products. If we care so much about how global tech companies exploit their customers then we should equally care about how people abuse technology products. And to be honest, most international tech companies have found ways to detect and eliminate crime.
Paypal, since 2014 banned Nigeria from receiving funds on its platform. That is applauding, however, the onus is equally on the Nigerian government to monitor the activities of international and local technology companies in their territories. We already know developed countries invest heavily on building Artificial Intelligent tools to detect e-crime, just like this, so much more can be done.