The Cyber-Crime Bill and Bloggers who run extortion rackets

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@cherox turned the spotlight on the Cyber-Crime bill, but this time wonders why it doesn’t address the practice of bloggers who run extortion rackets. Her series of tweets start here and end here. I have curated those tweets in prose format here for your convenience.

## Cherox’s Tweets ##

I think this Cyber law that the Nigerian government is trying to implement in theory is a good look, it’s execution is going poorly.

First of all, someone needs to talk about these bloggers. Yes; the popular ones you and I visit daily that get ridiculous money for doing zero. 9 out of 10 bloggers’ main business is extortion. Their modus operandi is the same. They find the target company and then find an embarrassing story, either about the company or an executive in the company. Then proceed to make sure the story gets just enough traction to get the attention of the company. Naturally, the company/its rep will contact the blogger to remove it. Then they start, saying, “You don’t support us; so why?”

The company then has to “support” by paying an unnecessarily high fee to place a banner ad on the blog. Then no news about them, well almost, until the ad expires, then you hear about the MD having an affair with someone or the other. If the company refuses to support, it becomes a daily barrage of negative stories about the company/personality. All because of N50,000 monthly banner. Yes; your favourite blogger probably engages in this sort of extortion racket. This sort of behaviour should be criminalized. But the bill doesn’t adequately address cyber crimes.

## End of tweets ##

I remember that not too long ago, one of the Nigerian GSM operators hosted some of us to a lunch chat. At the event, the communications manager mentioned things along this line. Specifically, he said that some bloggers deliberately write negative articles about certain brands to get attention with the aim of extracting monetary compensation to tone things down. I had never seen it happen at the time, and even now, I cannot say that I know anyone who does it. That does not mean that the practice does not exist.

Whatever name it goes by – extortion, blackmail, or exaction – it is a very unethical thing to do. I do not find the news surprising, as lots of other unethical things go on all over the place. A different way this works is bloggers demanding discounts, free stuff and preferential treatment in exchange for good reviews. In any case, bloggers blackmailing individuals and businesses should qualify as cyber-crime. It is an abuse of the use of internet technology.

Have you seen this sort of thing happen? Do you know any bloggers involved? How can this malpractice be curtailed? Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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