Tuesday, 28 June 2016
With every terrorist attack in the West legislators and law enforcement authorities call for laws (or amendment of extant laws) for increased surveillance of citizens. This they argue will enhance the capabilities of law enforcement authorities to prevent and where they occur, investigate terrorist attacks.
It has been reported here that:
The federal government is taking another step it says would make the US homeland safer from terrorism. US border authorities are proposing that millions of tourists entering the country each year reveal their social media identities.
The proposal from US Customs and Border Protection, announced last week in the Federal Register, would add a line to the online or paper form that US-bound visitors must fill out if they don't have a visa and plan on staying for up to 90 days for vacation, business, or other affairs. The agency says travelers coming to the US under the Visa Waiver Program won't be forced to disclose their social media handles, but leaving it blank obviously could raise red flags.
Here's what will be asked: "Please enter information associated with your online presence—Provider/Platform—Social media identifier."
It has also been reported that "Federal agents (in the US) are planting microphones to secretly record conversations."
Arstechnica also reported that:
“Russia's lower house of parliament, the State Duma, has approved a series of new online surveillance measures as part of a wide-ranging anti-terrorism law…As well as being able to demand access to encrypted services, the authorities will require Russia's telecom companies to store not just metadata, but the actual content of messages too, for a period of six months. Metadata alone must then be held for a total of three years, according to a summary of the new law on the Meduza site. Authorities will be able to access the stored content and metadata information on demand…the legislation still needs to be approved by Russia's upper house, the Federation Council, and signed by President Putin.”
Slowly and gradually our right to privacy is being be eroded. Nigerians may think this is only happening in the US but it is happening at home here in Nigeria too, for e.g. compelling mobile phone users to register their GSM lines and submit biometric data etc. before activation of the lines for use.
Furthermore “A PREMIUMTIMES investigation spanning months revealed that a Bulgarian digital surveillance company, Circles 3G, offered the technology with which the governors secretly violated the privacy of citizens, while federal government authorities, themselves vulnerable, looked away.”
See also the Facebook post by one James S. Gbudu claiming to monitor the internet with the hope of riding it of fake social media accounts being used to abuse Nigerians!
It may not be out of place to conclude that the future for privacy looks bleak! I therefore foresee a situation whereby little by little the right to privacy(online and possibly offline) will be gradually eroded until there is no more right to privacy most especially in the name of fighting terrorism and other crimes. This erosion of privacy will be further aided by the coming Internet of Things (IoT).
The question then is; will the DEATH of privacy guarantee better security of lives and property for all of us?
Monday, 13 June 2016
It has been reported in the papers that “a proposal to limit the over the counter cash withdrawal by bank customers to N10,000 has been tabled before the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). The Sub-committee on Payments Systems and Infrastructure of the Bankers Committee last week sent the proposal to the CBN. The proposal was presented at the committee’s meeting but it is not clear whether it was considered. The CBN is expected to “give feedback on the request”.
The banks by the proposal want to further compel bank customers to use e-banking channels, e.g. ATMs, internet banking etc. However when there is a dispute involving transactions on any of those channels it takes a long time before they are resolved and customers often go through harrowing experiences before a resolution is reached. For instance in cases of ATM dispense errors (i.e. ATM fails to dispense cash but customer account is debited) involving the ATMs of two different banks, it takes sometimes over a month before there is a reversal of the debit and in some instances there is no reversal at all and the banks will go to court insisting that there was a withdrawal without providing conclusive evidence of such withdrawals like ATM camera footages as required by CBN guidelines. See for e.g. the cases of KUME BRIDGET ASHIEMAR vs. GUARANTYTRUST BANK PLC (GTB) & UNITED BANK FOR AFRICA (UBA) PLC, Suit No: MHC/198/14 and BARR. TIMOTHY TION vs.FCMB LTD & UBA PLC. (Suit No. MHC/161/16), pending before the Benue State High Court of Justice, Makurdi.
Further evidence of how it takes long for ebanking disputes between banks and customers to be resolved can be found in my own case where I sent an email to the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN's) Consumer Protection Department (email@example.com) over a disputed ATM withdrawal since December, 2015 and I did not get any response whatsoever from the Consumer Protection Department till date.
It is even doubtful if there are enough ATMs to service customers who will have to resort to ATM withdrawals if across the counter cash withdrawal is limited to N10,000.
I therefore, call on the CBN and bank customers to reject the proposal by Deposit Money Banks to limit over the counter cash withdrawal by bank customers to N10,000.
The following stories illustrate the suffering bank customers in Nigeria go through using e-banking channels especially ATMs:
Thursday, 2 June 2016
A typical ATM dispense error is a situation where the machine debits a customer’s account without actually physically dispensing cash. In KUME BRIDGET ASHIEMAR vs. GUARANTY TRUST BANK PLC (GTB) & UNITED BANK FOR AFRICA (UBA) PLC, Suit No: MHC/198/14 being tried at the Benue State High Court, sitting in Makurdi, the plaintiff, Kume Bridget Ashiemar, in October 2013, attempted a total of five times(N20,000.00 thrice on 3/10/2013, N20,000.00 and N10,000.00 once on 4/10/2013) to withdraw money over two days totalling N90,000.00 at the ATM of UBA Plc. in North Bank, Makurdi. However, the ATM did not dispense cash on each attempt and displayed a message of insufficient funds yet her account was debited. She laid a complaint at her bank, GTB and requested for camera and video recordings of the transactions but none was provided and neither was she refunded the N90,000.00 In January 2014, three months later, she contacted a lawyer who wrote GTB but nothing came of the lawyer’s later.
Eventually she sued the banks and the banks in their defence are claiming that the ATM dispensed cash which was taken by her on each occasion she attempted to withdraw money on the dates mentioned above. UBA has provided ATM journal prints and transaction logs of the disputed transactions without providing visual evidence of cash dispense and pick up by Kume Bridget, to prove that the transactions were successful. The case is being tried at High Court No. 7 in the High Court of Justice of Benue State, Makurdi. The next adjourned date for the case is 27th June, 2016.
It would be interesting to see how the court will decide the case as the same High Court No. 7 had in the case of VICTOR EJE V. UBA PLC Suit No. MHC/323/2010, awarded N500,000.00 general damages against UBA Plc in favour of the plaintiff, Victor Eje and also ordered the bank to refund the sum of N80,000.00 withdrawn from his account without his authority or mandate. The brief facts of the case are that Mr. Eje went to the bank on 30/10/2009 to withdraw N20,000.00 and he discovered he had only N1,639.00 in his account. He inquired as to why he had only N1,639.00 and he was informed that N80,000.00 was withdrawn from his account via ATM card on the ATM of Spring Bank, Ogiri Road, Enugu. Mr. Eje contended that he did not make the withdrawal neither did he authorize any person to do so with his ATM card. The bank on the other hand contended that the withdrawal was done by Mr. Eje or he was negligent and/or divulged his PIN to a third party which allowed such a third party to use the ATM card to make withdrawals. However the bank failed to prove its assertions or contentions and the court therefore held it liable for the withdrawal of the N80,000.00 since it could not prove that the withdrawal was authorized by Mr. Eje.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in trying to check the hardship meted on bank customers due to non-dispense or partial dispense errors in 2014 issued a circular with ref no. BPS/DIR/CIR/01/008 dated 11/6/2014 entitled: Non-Refund of Monies to Customers Short-changed by ATMs’ Non-Dispense or Partial Dispense Error; directing all deposit money banks to refund to customers all monies trapped in ATMs due to non-dispense or partial dispense error. It was also reported in 2014 that several billions of Naira remained caught up in failed ATM transactions across the branches of Nigeria’s 25 deposit money banks nationwide, thus causing pain and frustration to many of the country’s 25 million bank customers.
The apex bank also in a circular dated 7th February, 2011 with ref. no. BPS/DIR/CIR/GEN/02/003 decried the continued non-compliance by banks with CBN circulars and guidelines on ATM operations in Nigeria and also stipulated some penalties for non-compliance. Some of the penalties stipulated by the CBN include:
- An ATM without a camera installed will attract a fine of N50,000 and deactivation of the ATM until the camera is installed.
- An ATM deployer will be made to refund the full amount Involved in any fraud perpetrated on its ATM for failure to provide footages on the disputed transactions when required.
- Failure to resolve any ATM dispute with evidence of resolution within 14 days, the deployer will refund the total amount involved in the fraud.
Furthermore, the CBN through its Banking and Payment System Department in May, 2014, released the Guidelines for Card Issuance and Usage in Nigeria; which provides that:
“All debit entries arising from failed transactions attributable to system-related issues must be auto-reversed. Where auto reversal is not feasible, manual reversal must be carried out within 24 hours.”