Nigeria releases draft guidelines to regulate social media, blogs and online platforms

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The Federal Government of Nigeria has released what it called a draft code of practice to guide the operations of Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Google, TikTok and other social media platforms in the country.

Part of the code, which seeks to regulate social media, states that each of the platforms operating in Nigeria must provide “any information within its domain or any assistance to any authorized government agency for the purpose of conducting an investigation, combating cybercrime or prosecuting an offense”.

The government also wants social media platforms to follow Nigerian laws and “not deploy or modify their Platform in a manner that would compromise or interfere with law enforcement and/or enforcement.

According to the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), the new rules labeled “Code of Practice for Interactive Computer Services/Internet Intermediate Platforms and Terms of Operation in Nigeriawas developed following a directive from President Muhammadu Buhari.

What they say

While noting that the draft code of practice aims to protect the basic human rights of Nigerians and non-Nigerians living in the country as well as set out guidelines for interacting on the digital ecosystem, NITDA said, “The new global reality is that the activities carried out on these online platforms have a huge influence on our society, our social interactions and our economic choices. Therefore, the Code of Practice is an intervention to recalibrate the relationship of online platforms with Nigerians to maximize mutual benefits for our nation while promoting a sustainable digital economy.

Additionally, the code of practice sets out procedures to protect the safety and well-being of Nigerians while interacting on these platforms. It aims to hold online platforms to account for illegal and harmful content on their platforms. Furthermore, it establishes a strong framework for collaborative efforts to protect Nigerians from harm online, such as hate speech, cyber-harassment, as well as disinformation and/or misinformation,added the Agency.

Certain provisions of the draft code

The government says any social media platform operating in the country must do the following:

  • Act quickly upon receipt of a notice from a user or an authorized government agency regarding the presence of illegal content on its Platform. A Platform must acknowledge receipt of the complaint and remove the content within 24 hours.
  • Act promptly to remove, disable or block access to non-consensual content that exposes a person’s private areas, full or partial nudity, sexual intercourse, deepfake or revenge pornography, when such content is intended to harass, discredit or intimidate any individual. A Platform must acknowledge receipt of the complaint and remove the content within 24 hours.
  • Disclose the identity of the creator of information on its Platform when ordered to do so by court order. Provided that an order of this nature applies for the purpose of preventing, detecting, investigating or prosecuting an offense relating to the sovereignty and integrity of Nigeria, public order, security, diplomatic relations, crime, l incitement to an offense relating to any of the above or in connection with rape, child abuse or sexually explicit material.
  • Where the first creator of the relevant message is located outside of Nigeria, the first creator of such information in Nigeria shall be deemed to be the first creator.
  • Perform due diligence to ensure that no illegal content is uploaded to their platform. When a platform receives a notice from a user or any authorized government agency that illegal content has been uploaded, that platform is obligated to remove it and ensure that it remains down.

NITDA says the code of practice, which is now available for review by members of the public, was developed in collaboration with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), along with input from platforms. -forms of interactive computer services such as Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Google and Tik Tok among others.

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