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Nigeria’s Code of practice ‘potential tool for abuse’ warns digital rights group

Digital rights group Paradigm Initiative (PIN) has urged Nigerians and “everyone passionate about the protection of digital civic space” to “take action” and review the recently released Code of Practice for Interactive Computer Service Platforms/Internet Intermediaries and Conditions for Operating in Nigeria.

Yesterday, the West African country’s National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) confirmed the release of the Code that serves as a guideline for engagement with Nigeria’s digital ecosystem, and compels social media platforms to adhere to specific requirements to continue operation.

ITWeb Africa reported that according to the NITDA, “all platforms whose users are more than one hundred thousand” have to be “incorporated in Nigeria, have a physical contact address in Nigeria” and “appoint a Liaison Officer who shall serve as a communication channel between the government” and the platform.

The policy also makes it mandatory for social media platforms to furnish “authorised government agency with information on reason behind popular online content demand and the factor or figure” behind the influence.

Social media companies must also justify why users of the networks “get specific information” on their timelines.

PIN released a statement in which it called on stakeholders to review the Code, and added: “The released draft code of practice is a potential tool for the abuse of constitutionally guaranteed rights of Nigerian citizens.”

“The code of practice and its impending implementation goes to the essence of digital rights and freedom for all, and we are aware of the dangers inherent in the closing of digital civic space in Nigeria. This is why we have been working with others to push back on this trajectory in Africa to ensure human rights considerations are taken into account in the development and implementation of digital policies,” the organisation stated.

The digital rights advocacy group has announced that it will host a virtual response to the Code on 21 June.

It encouraged participation and said: “While we continue to monitor the advancement of the code, we are calling for a civil society stakeholder session to coordinate input and response to this draft regulation. All stakeholders need to speak with one voice in response to this development so that our voices are heard loud and clear.”

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