17 May 2017

Kenya: Like Sharing Nudes? Beware of Cyber Bullying

Photo: /Daily Monitor
Social media and Internet access though computer and mobile phones.

Nairobi — One minute you are friends next you are foes and such is life.

For many people, it is never easy to accept and move on; after a relationship is over they tend to vent out in a way that may eventually hurt their partners.

But then, there are those who just want to blackmail, coerce or manipulate someone and usually take maximum advantage of anything that they have at hand that can 'harm' them.

They do all this in the name of revenge.

Detectives in Kenya say they receive "so many complaints" reported to the Cybercrime Unit and no one is spared by the wrath of cyber bullying, despite your social status.

People seeking political positions often fall victim to cyber bullying, where sensitive pictures or videos are shared on social media just a few days to voting, a well-calculated move by the culprits to 'steal' their support.

During the Jubilee Party primaries, video footage, allegedly of one of the Woman Representative aspirants went viral, attracting mixed reactions from city residents.

Though nothing disparaging is seen in the video, a curvy woman is seen wearing a short dress while in the kitchen preparing food.

The motive of sharing the video according to police was to paint her in a bad light among "sensitive voters - moral adherents."

In Rwanda, one of the presidential aspirants Diane Shima is also a victim.

Someone leaked her nude photos, where she is seen striking poses.

-Online platforms-

As established by Capital FM News, there are hundreds of online platforms where people are permitted to post nude pictures in the name of exposing their 'evil' partners or revenging after a heartbreak experience.

There are tens of Telegram groups whose main business is just that.

Hundreds of people have fallen victim after their pictures or videos were shared on such platforms, which eventually leak across other online platforms.

Other people do it for fun and more so sex pets who get irked after they are turned away by their target 'prey'.

-Case Studies-

Beatrice (not her real name) is worried that her image will be soiled if naked pictures she had sent to a friend are leaked.

The friend has been blackmailing her with all manner of demands and he continues to have an upper hand even after she has met all of them.

"Now he wants me to give him a list of all the boyfriends I have ever had," a traumatised Beatrice told Capital FM News.

"I innocently shared my photos with him because I trusted him ... I thought he was mature."

Her story is no different from thousands of others in the country, who are living with the fear of the unknown.

In such groups, people not only share videos and pictures of their targets but also screenshots their conversations and contacts.

Their purpose is to kill the inner soul of their target by humiliating, threatening and harassing them.

Rose (Not her real name) was exposed by her boyfriend of three years after a quarrel.

"It killed my personality completely... he shared everything. I don't see my body the same way after the traumatising experience. I received calls from my relatives, colleagues at work who all wondered what was wrong with me," she says.

"I still regret to date sending my pictures to him... I didn't have his photos, that is why he did it."

-Justice Delayed-

Capital FM News sought to know whether victims of such attacks report to the police or they just 'die' in silence after being humiliated.

Head of the Serious Crime Unit John Kariuki says there is the need for tougher legal measures to be put in place for the menace to be eliminated.

He laments that currently the investigation unit does not have any legal backing to pursue culprits and instead victims are referred to file civil suits.

"The law enforcement agencies have been using the Communications Act to deal with the cyber related cases but the section we used to use against those who are misusing social media was outlawed by one of the High Court judges leaving us in a precarious situation."

"All the time, we are referring people to take civil remedy in court with their advocate until a Cyber Crime Act to deal with such offences is enacted. Another Judge found the defamation section in the penal code unconstitutional leaving us with nothing to deal with such cases."

He, however, says the Computer Cyber Crime Bill, if passed into law, will empower detectives to deal with all forms of cybercrime.

Today 11:42 am (3 hours ago)

People who spew hatred risk either being fined Sh20 million or face 10 years in jail, if the Computer and Cybercrimes Bill 2016 is enacted to law.

The draft law details a wide range of stringent measures to also curb other crimes such as child abuse, identity theft, child pornography, online fraud, radicalization, money-laundering and hate speech.

The bill is also aimed at improving investigations into cybercrimes by making provisions for procedural law tools and securing electronic evidence for effective national and international cooperation.

"The bill is more comprehensive since it will cover all other cyber criminal related offences," he said. "If passed to law, we shall be able to deal with the problem effectively."

In some circumstances, people pay ransom to get their freedom back, which is after all never guaranteed.

"The problem cut across all levels of our society... some people who come to report these cases are rated highly in the society," he said with divulging further information.

His advice to Kenyans, "have your clothes on ... don't share your photos with anyone. Are they sending theirs as well?"

-Reactions from Kenyans-

Here are some of the sentiments by residents of Nairobi asked whether they would share uncovered photos with friends;

"I can't trust people with my uncovered photos. Come see in person if you want," one of them said.

Another pointed out that, "The Internet never forgets and a decision like that could end up ruining your life ... You don't want to be in a position where a mere image will stop you from achieving what you want because human beings remains moral police."

"I would never share naked photos with anyone. It is good to keep your privacy intact. You never knows what future holds," said another one.

Another said "Yes, I have shared a couple but no face in it."

"I cannot send them because I am very conservative and I usually delete such... celebs are victims," a known celebrity who did not want to be mentioned said.

He is a victim after photos of him were taken while intoxicated and shared on the social media.

-Global Problem-

Recent research indicates that one in five Australians have fallen prey to abusive behaviour, including having intimate photographs taken without consent and then confronting threats to share them on social networks, a government-funded national study of more than 4,200 people revealed.

Academics at Monash University and RMIT University found that men and women were equally likely to be targeted, while 50 percent of those from minority groups, like Aboriginal Australians and those with disabilities, reported some form of abuse.

About a third of those who identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual had fallen victim.

The most common type of abuse was taking intimate images without consent. Some 11 percent of victims saw their images distributed without their consent, with some 40 percent of those being shared across social media platforms like Snapchat and Facebook.

A vast majority of those who experienced "sextortion", or threats to share their images, said they suffered from anxiety as a result, with many fearing for their safety.

About half of the victims said their perpetrators were male, about a third that the violator was female while 13 percent said the offender was unknown.

More on This

Cyber Criminals to Pay Sh20 Million, Serve Jail Time in New Bill

The ICT ministry is working with parliament to push for the quick expedition of the Cyber Security and Protection Bill… Read more »

Copyright © 2017 Capital FM. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 800 reports a day from more than 140 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.