The Director-General of the Cyber Security Authority (CSA), Dr. Albert Antwi-Boasiako, has stated that security agencies in the country have a shared responsibility to fight cybercrime to protect public safety.

In that respect, he emphasised that the government of Ghana through the CSA, and the agencies represented on the Joint Cybersecurity Committee (JCC), were committed to fighting cybercrime and its related activities to nib the menace in the bud.

He said this at a press conference jointly organised by the CSA, the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) and the Bank of Ghana (BoG) in Accra to announce a joint investigation that led to the arrest of more than 400 persons engaged in the operation of unlicensed Digital Lending Apps in the Greater Accra Region.

The activities were in violation of the Cybersecurity Act, 2020 (Act 1038), the Banks and Specialised Deposit-Taking Institutions Act, 2016 (Act 930), the Electronics Transaction Act, 2008 (Act 772) and other laws of the country.

Kwame Oppong, also from the BoG. Also in attendance was a representative from the Data Protection Commission (DPC), Ms. Abigail Yeboah.

Touching on the scores of reports reaching the CSA from the public, the Director-General disclosed that the National Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-GH), through its Cybercrime/Cybersecurity Incident Reporting Points of Contact (PoC), had since December 2022, received more than 270 reports of incidents of cyberbullying, extortion, abuse of customer data and privacy, death threats, libel among others associated with unlicensed Digital Lending Apps.

Antwi-Boasiako said the CSA launched investigations into the reported cases and identified 150 unlicensed applications involved and shared those findings with the relevant law enforcement agencies.

“As part of the JCC engagements, the CSA noticed that a number of JCC member institutions had also received similar complaints associated with unlicensed Digital Lending Apps,” he added.

The Director-General mentioned that the CSA released public alerts in the form of advisories to the public titled "Cyber Bullying by Digital Lending Mobile Application Owners" in January and March 2023, warning the public against the installation of such unlicensed apps.

He further explained that those alerts and advisories focused on the operations of the digital lending app owners, key findings from preliminary investigations through the PoC, the names of the lending apps, and recommendations for the public and complemented by follow-up engagements in the media.

Briefing the press, COP Addo-Danquah cautioned the public against downloading questionable digital applications in order not to fall prey to scams, as she reaffirmed EOCO's commitment to the enforcement of relevant laws governing the operations of Ghana's financial sector.

On his part, Dr France who represented the First Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Dr Maxwell Opoku-Afari, noted that in June 2023, the BoG issued a notice to the public to alert them to the use of unlicensed digital loans, adding that the Central Bank had intensified education on consumer abuse and harassment, data protection, and privacy.

Madam Abigail Yeboah affirmed the commitment of the DPC to protecting the data privacy of individuals and thus called on the public to freely report suspicious incidents to the appropriate authorities.

The Joint Cybersecurity Committee comprises the Supreme Court, the National Information Technology Agency, the National Communications Authority, the Data Protection Agency, the Bank of Ghana, the Financial Intelligence Centre, the National Investigations Bureau, the Economic and Organised Crime Office, the Criminal Investigations Department of the Ghana Police Service, the National Security Council, and the Bureau of National Communications.

The rest are the Defence Intelligence, the Ghana Armed Forces, External Intelligence, the Ghana Immigration Service, the Director of Public Prosecutions Division of the Office of the Attorney-General, the Cyber Security Authority and the Ghana Domain Name Registry.