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Cyber Security in the Third Republic

The global village that we live in today enables the billions of its inhabitants to communicate daily thanks to various devices. Desktops, mobiles and tablets are utilized to share personal and professional information at the speed of light thanks to the platforms and softwares that are developed in that reference. However, the world wide web (www.) sometimes serves as a safe haven for various criminals operating under the radar since legislation for this arena has not been developed to its full potential to counter the cybercriminals emerging daily around the globe.

On June 16th, 2020, the U.S Department of State and the Council of Europe hosted a webinar on:  “Challenges of International Cooperation on Cybercrime and Electronic Evidence in the Africa Region” according to the Council of Europe. Sixty participants from thirteen different countries were present, notably Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Ivory Coast, The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Mauritius, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia. The individuals present were officials that worked either in their respective Ministries of Information and Communication Technologies or Cybercrime Experts in Law Enforcement. The Budapest Convention on Cybercrime was at the core of the training program organized in an effort to encourage its implementation by all member States as well as the recruitment of new nations to join the cause. According to the same source, the following was discussed:

  1. Practical Aspects and Technical Challenges of International Investigations on Dark Web Markets and Relevant Case Studies
  2. A review of INTERPOL Work in International Cooperation, Resources for Investigation and COVID-19 Related Case Studies
  3. Key Lessons Learned from Representatives from Ghana and Nigeria who Showcased the Approach Adopted in the Respective National context to Facilitate International Cooperation and Streamline the Use of the Budapest Convention
  4. The Tools That the “Budapest Convention on Cybercrime” Offers for International Cooperation Including Relevant References to the “Second Additional Protocol to the Convention on Cybercrime” Currently under Negotiation

The source goes on to underline that the follow up event planned for September 2020, will address the following concerns raised by the various participants:

  1. The availability of training resources
  2. Channels of communications and the improvement in the collaborations with Internet Service Providers (ISPs)
  3. The interplay with National Data Protection Legislations
  4. How to carry out successful investigations on the dark web and the consolidation of procedures to handle electronic evidence across the borders

In July 2016, The Gambia National Cybersecurity Strategy Proposed Formulation and Action Plan was commissioned by the West Africa Regional Communication Infrastructure Program (WARCIP). The Gambia project was delivered  by the Expertise France, Bird & Bird and Civipol Conseil. The Preamble of the Report states the following: “The Gambia Cyber Security Strategy is a project which aims at providing the Government of The Gambia with a formulation of a holistic strategy on cyber security. This document provides such a possible formulation for the Gambia National Cyber Security Strategy (GNCSS or the Strategy). It has been developed based on information gathered during missions conducted in April and May 2016 in Banjul with the support of WARCIP, the Ministry of Information and Communication Infrastructure (MOICI), and in dialog with numerous stakeholders from public and private sectors. The consortium led by Expertise France with Bird & Bird and Civipol has developed the proposed GNCSS based on the current state, plans and aspirations of the country. It is written in such a way that it can be easily and directly implemented in national policy, should the Government of the Gambia want to adopt it as is”.

In December 2019, the Ministries of Justice and the one of Information and Communication of The Gambia prepared a draft Cybercrime Bill which was finalized in December 2019 and open for public consultation until January 2020. These were measures adopted within the framework of the GLACY+ and OCWAR-C projects funded by the European Union.

In The Gambia, everyday that goes by, many victims on the commonly utilized social media platforms are approached by cyber criminals. Emails are also flooded with messages from modern day criminals attempting to extort individuals of their hard earned money. The schemes are many and as sophisticated as the impersonation of institutional/organizational websites used to siphon personal and bank account details. These professionals operate from remote areas of the world as well as on the Gambian territory and utilize state of the art techniques that enable them to re -route their communications across a network of global servers. Their IP addresses change by the second as they loot victims and make it hard for the authorities to stay on their tracks.

Fake news, libel, slander, electronic bullying and electronic eavesdropping are terms that every Gambian citizen should familiarize themselves with. They should also be sensitized on the various approaches that some religious fanatics utilize to recruit for terrorist organizations in our impoverished communities. Politics is also highly influenced by the billions of communications that are posted daily on the world wide web by individuals that have obscure agendas towards their nation. Propaganda should not be confused with facts and realities. After all and according to the Constitution of The Gambia: “None is supposed to ignore the law as a citizen”.

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