Nigerian draft Code of Practice for Interactive Computer Service Platforms/Internet Intermediaries
On 13th June 2022, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) issued the draft Code of Practice for Interactive Computer Service Platforms/Internet Intermediaries, which is intended to set out best practices for Platforms and make the digital ecosystem safer for Nigerians. The Code is also expected to set out measures to combat harmful online information and adopt a co-regulatory approach toward implementation and compliance. The Code thereafter sets out provisions across 6 parts to achieve these objectives.
According to NITDA, the Code was developed in collaboration with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC), with input from “interactive computer platforms” such as Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Google, and TikTok. NITDA claims that the Code is aimed at “protecting the fundamental human rights of Nigerians and non-Nigerians living in the country, as well as defining guidelines for interacting in the digital ecosystem”.
As expected, Nigerians have not welcomed the Code, with many concluding that it is an attempt by the Nigerian Government to regulate social media and quash freedom of expression. This is understandable considering past actions of the Nigerian government when it comes to social media platforms. For example, in 2019, there was the social media Bill before the National Assembly, which attempted to curb the perceived excesses of social media users. The Prohibition of Hate Speeches Bill closely followed that Bill. When the public outcry regarding both Bills became resounding, they were dropped. However, in 2021, following Twitter’s deletion of a Tweet posted by the Nigerian President, Twitter was banned for several months, with users in Nigeria unable to access the platform and many users resorting to using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to access the microblogging site. In that same year, there was an attempt by the Nigerian Government to amend the National Broadcasting Commission Act to empower NBC to regulate social media platforms.
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