AN APPRAISAL OF THE LEGAL FRAMEWORK FOR COMBATING CYBERCRIME IN INTERNATIONAL LAW

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ABSTRACT

The current wave of globalization and technological revolution has tremendous effect on the way people interact, carry out business transactions and store information. The internet has a vital role to play in all these. Though there are numerous advantages associated with the internet today as it has made interaction, business transactions and transfer of data easy, cybercrimes which are criminal acts carried out through the internet or through computer devices are serious threats to use of the internet or computer devices. To make matters worse, there are no comprehensive laws which address cybercrimes in most nations today and law enforcement agencies and the judiciary are not properly “equipped” to handle cybercrimes. For instance, in the course of investigating and prosecuting cybercrimes jurisdiction is always very hard to determine in cyberspace, i.e. the internet. What makes the issue of jurisdiction paramount in investigation and prosecution of cybercrimes is the fact that cybercrimes are borderless crimes as they can be committed from anywhere at any where once the cybercriminal has internet connection or has access to a computer device. The current laws regulating criminal conduct in most nations of the world today are ill-equipped to cope with these emerging cybercrimes. The old standard of classification and investigation of traditional crimes cannot meet up with the fast-changing technological advancements especially in the internet. This consequently creates an avenue for criminal minded individuals to hide behind a computer screen and deceive unsuspecting
individuals who are the victims of the cybercriminal. The cybercriminal is usually faceless and his location unknown, making it easier for him to enter and exit the cyber space of the cyber victim with little or no detection. There is therefore the need to encourage the adoption of international law in combating cybercrime all over the world.
The Budapest Convention on cybercrime which is the only treaty on cybercrime has numerous advantages which parties to the said convention stand to benefit from. Using Nigeria, the United States of America and the United Kingdom as contact-points of this study, this thesis has also attempted to highlight grey areas in criminal law which affects security of most people in the world today and the internet. Some of the laws considered are: Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act 2004, Criminal Code Act, Cap C 38, LFN 2004, Penal Code law, Cap. 110 law of Kaduna State 1991,the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2013, Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act No. 1, 2011 and Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act 2012, the Evidence Act No.18 2011, Advance Fee Fraud and other related Offences Act No. 14, 2006, the Nigeria Cybercrime Act, 2015 and from the United Kingdom, the Computer misuse Act, 1990 the Criminal Justice Act 1978, the Police and Justice Act, 2006 and the Protection of Children Act, 1978. Jurisdiction is discussed, highlighting principles of jurisdiction from Nigeria, the United States of America and the United Kingdom.The effort in this study is not to lay claim, with certainty, to the fact that the Budapest Convention on cybercrime is the ultimate treaty on cybercrime, but to encourage the participation of the comity of nations in the only treaty on cybercrime and enacting cybercrime specific laws in all nations of the world as encouraged by the said treaty. This would encourage international cooperation in the fight against cybercrime.

 

CHAPTER ONE
GENERAL INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background to the Study
Undeterred by the prospect of arrest or prosecution, cyber criminals around the world lurk on the internet as an aim present menace to the financial health of business, to the trust of their customers, and as an emerging threat to nation‟s security. The Internet is one of the truly revolutionary phenomena of our times. It has changed the way we live and work and we have come to rely on it in every sphere of our endeavours. From a population of 20million connected to the Internet in 1998 we now have more than two billion and rising.2It is estimated that this connectivity will now double in the coming years as a result of a number of factors including the introduction of non-Latin script top level domains for Internet addresses, expansion of the Internet‟s generic domain name space and the increasing prevalence of smart phones and tablets with Internet access. While the benefits of this borderless ecosystem have grown exponentially the Internet has also become an irresistible magnet for criminal behaviour. Cyber criminals have become increasingly inventive and gravitate to jurisdictions which offer them most protection because of outdated and or non- harmonized legal regimes and law enforcement agencies which do not have the skills and resources to monitor Internet traffic, to investigate complaints, to prosecute or invoke any intervention that may be warranted. The global and borderless nature of the Internet enables criminals to cooperate and co-ordinate their activities and distribute their assets over several jurisdictions with impunity.
With the ever-evolving computer technology, computer-related crime and cybercrime have become a significant global challenge. The ability to automate attacks against computer systems can lead, for example, to hundreds of thousands of registered attempts to interfere with, or illegally access computer systems each day. Hundreds of new computer viruses are detected every month3 and virus toolkits enable computer users with even limited skills to create malicious software. Through networks of literally
millions of compromised computer systems controlled by individual criminal groups, even the most powerful Internet services can be attacked.4 Such threats are expansive, not only in terms of quantity, but also in terms of quality. In recent years, the number of reports concerning targeted attacks against critical infrastructure have increased. The Internet is based on single technical standards that allow global communication. This has the advantage of allowing the globalization of Internet services (such as Facebook, Google, Yahoo and others) that are operated in one country but can be accessed by users from all over the world. From a crime prevention perspective, however, it has the disadvantage that acts of cybercrime do not require that the offender be located in the same country as the victim. This explains why the vast majority of cybercrime offences have a transnational dimension. Successful prevention and combating of cybercrime therefore requires effective international cooperation through an adequate treaty and well trained government and law enforcement personnel.

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