Cyber café clients have decried the EFCC's latest directive, that operators of cyber cafes in Abuja must register their clients to check cyber crimes in the country. The clients feel that the order infringes on their privacy. One of the clients, Umar Salihu, said he prefers to stop visiting cyber cafes than to give out personal information about himself. "Giving out such information to operators of such businesses is very risky as you would not know which among them is clean," he said.

  He also expressed fears that dubious operators can use such information to strike at the clients. "How many times have we seen thieves trace people home as a result of giving out their personal data carelessly?" he said.

Emeka, another client, advised that it would be better for the EFCC to send its operatives to monitor activities of such operators than to force people to put down their personal data in each cyber café they visit. "The directive appears funny because someone who wants to only check his e-mail box would be made to fill such forms," he said.

Emeka disclosed further that operators of such businesses would incur more overhead costs as they would have to include printing of such forms in their budget.

Effiong, a journalist also disapproves of such order. "As a reporter who sends in stories through electronic mail, does it mean that I have to register my personal data in every cyber café I enter to send such news? This present EFCC's directive would end- up making operatives keep their own clients," he predicted.

Recently, the EFCC directed cyber cafes operators that those wishing to patronise cyber cafes are to fill forms, which will provide personal information about themselves, including their home addresses and phone numbers.

A café operator in Gwarinpa Estate, Mr Kunle Lawal, said the EFCC directed all operators to ensure that they keep records of their clients' names, valid residential addresses and phone numbers.

"The operators are also expected to submit their current passport photographs for the records but the records are to be left in the custody of the cyber cafes and not with the EFCC.

"With this directive, those patronising cafes are expected to log into the Internet in their own name so that if anything criminal happens, the commission will know immediately who logged in and when," Lawal said.

However, Internet cafe visitors are not happy with the initiative because some of them said it was not safe to leave details of their contact address with cafe operators.

They also said that it was wrong for some of the operators to resort to using the names of their clients as usernames and password to access the World Wide Web.

They argued that if the policy was not changed and users made to use their own passwords, criminals could have access to "one's documents and use it to commit crime". One of EFCC's responsibilities is to fight internet crime.

Daily Trust