Feature Article of Tuesday, 9 October 2012
Columnist: Frimpong, Joseph Yaw
IN THE BEGINNING
Ten short years ago, the subject of cybercrimes did not matter much in Ghana. It mattered so little, in fact, that in the Harmattan of 2002, a police officer I knew laughed it off when I tried explaining to him the dangers cybercrime posed to the country. To him, I was only speaking Greek because even his knowledge about the internet extended only to how to put a computer plug into a socket. He telecasted his ignorance to me when he said ‘’we’’ are only blowing cybercrimes out of mere proposition.
TEN YEARS AFTER THE BEGINNING
Ten years down the lane, cybercrimes has become a big source of worry to the government, the public and concerned stakeholders. Preventing cybercrimes is not like preventing forest fires. Scenes of a candle burning so bright does not necessary mean it would burst into flames. That is exactly how cybercrimes are. Due to the advancement in technology, cybercrimes are now far easier to commit. Getting to the internet now is very easy, all you need is a phone, computer, tablet or any internet eligible device which has internet on it and you are on the go. This has made cybercrimes difficult to detect because at the comfort of your home or at the comfort of a chair in the public park you can dupe people of huge sums of money and a policeman might be sitting near to you probably exchanging pleasantries. The mere fact that you are holding a phone or a laptop down the street does not necessarily mean you are committing a cybercrime and therefore should be arrested.
THE CHANGING FACES OF CYBERCRIMES
I remember clearly that when I first heard about cybercrimes, it affected only the rich people who had email but now through the increase of social media, cybercrimes too have also been on the ascendency and now affects the rich, poor and the middle class. At first, cybercriminals had to sit down and crack a long legendry list of rich people who had emails and then send them sugar coated duping messages. However, now with the advent of facebook, all what cybercriminals do is to just conjecture a name or better still look through the friend list of a friend he has and then start doing business. As social media keeps on improving, the duping skills of cybercriminals also increase. Cybercriminals use unauthorized exquisite photos of people and use it for their selfish agenda. They create all sorts of stories to outwit their customers who purchase their lies. Indeed, these people can be referred to as Latter-day Saint confidence tricksters. The only difference between them and the confidence tricksters is that they have a lot of knowledge about how the internet works and mostly have had some formal education of a sort.
ARE OUR POLICE UP TO TASK?
Getting internet connection as I said earlier is not difficult. The average Ghanaian student from the Junior High School to the University knows a bit about the interne but can the same be said of our police? We live in a country where even defending why children should be allowed to use the internet is considered as ageism. Various stories have been invented to alienate the reason why children should use the internet. Notwithstanding, the police man knows the danger cybercrimes poses. However, as to whether there has been enough training to police to handle cybercrimes is an issue of contention. I live in a country in which the last time I heard of a group of people being arrested for cybercrimes was two years ago yet I keep on hearing about how some people have gotten rich overnight through cybercrimes. I always hear stories like ‘’we are organizing re-training programmes for police to enable them be well-informed about cybercrimes’’ but I wonder when these would materialize. For me, if you are to ask me if the Ghanaian police is up to the task, the answer I would give is a big ‘’NO’’ because as they say ‘’talk is cheap’’ and ‘’action speaks louder than words.’’
Like Rev. Martin Luther King Jnr, I can only dream that one day, our Ghanaian police would be considered as one of the best cybercrime detectives in the world. I long to see a day when people would be arrested for some chauvinist and incriminate status updates they write on facebook and twitter pages. I know that that day when our police would be up to the task would come. But the question I pose now is ‘’so when shall that day come?’’ Like how the adventure of my favourite story book ‘A tale of two cities’ begins ‘Recalled to life.’
Written by Joseph Yaw Frimpong