In Liberia, the posting of nude photos, sexually explicit videos, and phishing messages on the internet is increasing at an alarming rate. Moreover, as the country continues into its presidential election, scandalous postings are now being used to exact revenge over political disagreements. Unfortunately, Liberia does not have a legitimately documented law that can serve as a form of deterrent against computer abuse and cyber crime.
As more young Liberians become comfortable using digital technology, they will choose to use their cell phones to record nude photos and intimate relations. When the relationship ends, these pictures and videos will most likely be used as some form of revenge. As it stands, no one in Liberia has collected any data on how many people have received nude photos of an unsuspecting victim on their cell phone. In 2014, a study by McAfee showed 54% of adults in the U.S. stored and shared naked photos, videos, and suggestive texts.
Over the past several months, social media forums focused on issues in Liberia have been buzzing over videos of people engaged in sexual acts. In some instances, these videos and photos were published as revenge to a break-up or a financial or sociopolitical quarrel. Facebook, the most popular means of digital communications, has very weak policies on nudity.
In Europe and the U.S., posting of unapproved or a wicked distribution of private images or videos on the internet is deemed revenge porn and it is illegal. Legislators in the U.S were quick to introduce laws to deal with this problem.
In 2011, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested Chris Chaney for hacking the email accounts of celebrities and posting their nude photos online. He was arrested, charged, prosecuted and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
While Liberia’s legislators have been “4G” speedy when it comes to endorsing presidential candidates, they’re not well known for introducing legislation to benefit their constituents. Some may argue that it’s time for legislators to use their 4G skills to introduce a comprehensive computer abuse and cybercrime law and steps to enforce the law.
The Government of Liberia’s strategy was to create a policy on cyber crime that incorporates an outdated and inadequate 2011 ECOWAS Directive into the Criminal Code of Liberia. According to the National Telecommunications and ICT Policy, the GoL plan was to include crimes involving fraud, the use of technology to transmit child pornography, hate messages, threats, insults, and crimes against humanity into law. As always, this plan hasn’t been fully implemented.
The sharing of sensitive and private images or videos on the internet has been linked to suicides by young people in South Africa and Kenya. As more and more young Liberians are introduced to digital technology, the country needs to be proactive in protecting its citizens against cybercrime. This is the time for Liberia’s legislators take a bold and preemptive stance by introducing legislation against computer abuse and cyber crime.